Respiratory protection


Control respiratory hazards

Respiratory hazards can include airborne contaminants such as dusts, mists, fumes, and gases, or oxygen-deficient atmospheres. Well-designed and maintained engineering controls are the preferred methods of controlling worker exposure to hazardous contaminants in the air. These control methods include:

  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Enclosure or isolation of the process or work equipment
  • Proper control and use of process equipment
  • Process modifications including substitution of less hazardous materials where possible

Use of respirators must be approved by the safety office

The Safety Office discourages the use of respirators in University laboratories. Contact the Safety Office if you are considering using a respirator. An officer from the Safety Office will investigate the circumstances and determine if a respirator is appropriate.

Respirators require specific training in their proper use and care. Before anyone on campus uses a respirator they must attend an instructional seminar and then be properly fit-tested for the respirator they intend to use.

Workers should use respirators for protection from contaminants in the air only if other hazard control methods are not practical or possible under the circumstances. Respirators should not be the first choice for respiratory protection. They should only be used:

  • When engineering or administrative controls are not technically feasible
  • While engineering controls are being installed or repaired
  • When emergencies or other temporary situations arise (e.g. maintenance operations)

Any laboratory experiment or process that has the potential to create airborne contaminants must be performed inside a fume hood or biosafety cabinet.

uWaterloo Respiratory Protection Program (PDF)

Contact the Safety Office (ext. 33587) regarding respiratory hazards in the lab.