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Screening prospective workers for the ability to use respirators.

Hodous TK
J Occup Med 1986 Oct; 28(10):1074-1080
The effects of respiratory wear were reviewed, with emphasis on what a respirator does to a wearer rather than what it does for a wearer, and reference guidelines for determining fitness to wear respirators were outlined. Medical effects of respirator wear include: increased tidal volume; decreased respiratory rate and ventilation, including a small decrease in alveolar ventilation, which could affect asthmatics and subjects predisposed to spontaneous pneumothorax; added cardiac stress and decrease in cardiac output; significant thermal stress and diminished senses; occasional psychological stress, to the point that some workers remain psychologically unfit to wear respirators; local skin irritation; and occasional ear and eye disorders. General fitness guidelines include: determination of an employee's fitness to wear a respirator by a physician; medical history and at least a limited medical examination; periodic fitness examinations; evaluation of potential psychological or physiological problems during a trial period; evaluation of the cardiovascular function under exercise stress tests, when stressful use conditions are expected; adherence to general work limitations and restrictions; and eventual designation of categories of employee fitness according to type of respirator, work conditions and employee health status. The author concludes that individual judgment must be applied in each case to determine fitness to wear respirators and that laboratory studies involving physiologically impaired workers as well as field studies under actual work conditions are needed to validate current practices.
JOCMA7; Screening-methods; Medical-screening; Respiratory-protective-equipment; Personal-protective-equipment; Occupational-safety-programs; Physiological-response; Psychological-factors; Sensory-perceptual-processes; NIOSH-Author
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Journal Article
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Journal of Occupational Medicine
Page last reviewed: January 27, 2023
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division