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Results of focus groups on respirator use and practices among road and transportation builders.

Doney-B; Greskevitch-M; Groce-D
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 21-26, 2005, Anaheim, California. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2005 May; :63
Many airborne hazards present at workplaces can cause pneumoconiosis, a lung condition that resulted in over 120,000 deaths from 1968-2000. Pneumoconiosis can be prevented, in part by the proper use of respirators. During May 2001-September 2003, we conducted seven focus group meetings in cooperation with the road and transportation building industry: two with union workers and five with management representatives of companies that employed union or nonunion workers. In the focus groups, we studied the types of airborne hazards present at workplaces, control measures used to reduce these hazards, types of respirators used, and barriers impacting respirator use. Focus group participants reported the following exposures: asbestos, asphalt fumes, carbon monoxide, concrete dust and silica, diesel and gasoline fuels, hydrogen sulfide, lead, paint vapors, and welding fumes. Control measures included use of water to suppress dust, local ventilation, closed cabs on equipment, fans or natural air movement, and the use of respirators. Barriers to proper respirator use include high ambient temperatures, fogging of respirator facepieces, difficulty wearing safety glasses with respirators, difficulty communicating while wearing respirators (voice muffled by the respirator and background noise), difficulty or inability to communicate with non-English speakers, high worker turnover and short duration of jobs (making training, medical evaluation, and air monitoring difficult), educational level of workers, and employer difficulty with enforcing correct use. Some of the perceived barriers are design issues that could be resolved by selection of respirators with current advanced technologies or by development of new respirator designs. Other barriers such as worker turnover, education, training, medical evaluation, and language are best addressed by development of improved program administration tools. In 2005, NIOSH is planning a respirator intervention pilot project at highway construction sites to identify remedies for respirator usage barriers identified by the focus groups.
Respirators; Transportation-workers; Airborne-dusts; Airborne-particles; Hazards; Occupational-hazards; Workers; Work-environment; Pneumoconiosis; Lung-disorders; Respiratory-system-disorders; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Occupational-exposure; Asbestosis; Asphalt-fumes; Dusts; Silica-dusts; Fuels; Fumes; Fumigants; Control-methods; Surveillance
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American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 21-26, 2005, Anaheim, California