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Feb. 11, 2011
Contact: Office of Communications
Phone: 202-693-1999

OSHA respiratory protection video discusses
proper respirator use for healthcare workers

WASHINGTON. – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently produced a training video for health care employers and workers that explains the proper use of respirators and the procedures to follow to assure that respirators protect workers from airborne hazards in healthcare settings.

The 33-minute video explains the major components of a respiratory protection program including fit-testing, medical evaluations, training, and maintenance. The video also discusses the difference between respirators and surgical masks, and features a segment on common respiratory hazards found in healthcare settings, including airborne infectious agents that cause diseases such as tuberculosis, pandemic influenza, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), chicken pox, and measles.

Demonstrations also show how respirator use helps protect workers from exposure to airborne chemical hazards such as formaldehyde and glutaraldehyde, which are used commonly in hospital laboratories to preserve tissue samples for medical analysis. These toxic substances can cause eye and nasal irritation, headaches, asthma, and other symptoms. Additionally, formaldehyde is a carcinogen and has been linked to nasal and lung cancer, with possible links to brain cancer and leukemia.

"Employers can't rely on respirators providing the expected protection if they don't train their workers on how to use them properly," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "This video is an important training tool that teaches proper respirator use and discusses employers' responsibilities under OSHA's respiratory protection standard."

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