A respirator is a personal device that is used to protect the respiratory tract from being exposed to an inhalation hazard. These hazards may include airborne particles, infectious agents, mists, sprays, gases, or vapors. Respirators are only to be used if the hazard can not be eliminated through either engineering control measures or work practice controls are inadequate or not feasible.
Wearers of respirators must be medically approved before using a respirator. Respirators put a burden on the heart , may restrict breathing ability, and with some respirators they can cause claustrophobia. Each of these conditions may adversely affect the health of some employees who wear respirators.
It is important that respirators are carefully selected for the contaminant, are inspected and cleaned regularly, are maintained properly and replaced when necessary. Users must be fitted with the respirator that will be used and trained on their use, limits, and care.