1161 40th Ave. N.E. • Calgary, AB CAN • T2E 6M9

Breathing Easy on the Job

When it comes to airborne contaminants on construction, industrial and similar worksites, a “hierarchy of control” approach is the first way to tackle the health hazards they pose to employees. Those include elimination, substitution, engineering or administrative controls to deal with those contaminants, whether they are dusts, fumes, oxygen-deficient atmospheres or other threats to the air your workers breathe.

However, when it’s not possible to fully eliminate those threats, and there’s the slightest risk of worker exposure, proper respiration gear is a must. Some types of worksite atmospheres are considered “Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health.” (IDLH)

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety defines an IDLH atmosphere as any area that contains “concentrations of hazardous substances that places the worker in immediate danger, because these concentrations would impair the ability to leave the work area (self rescue) or potentially cause irreversible health effects, including serious injury or death in a matter of minutes.”

Clearly, then, using the wrong respiratory equipment can kill or permanently maim the health of a worker. But it’s no easy task determining the critical factors that must be considered when choosing the correct respiratory equipment. The air that employees breathe should, quite simply, never be compromised.

At Orion Safety Equipment, our mission is to help your workers breathe easy – and safely – on the job. We have the largest selection in the Calgary area of respiratory equipment. We carry respiration products from the most trusted suppliers, including,
Drager, 3M, MSA, Honeywell & Scott. And we sell, rent, service and re-certify the products we carry.

But carrying respiration gear is one thing. Knowing it and developing the required respirator program for a job project is another. We help guide employers through the process of selecting and operating respiratory protective equipment. On-site respirator programs must address how to determine what hazards are present, how much protection workers will need, and instruct them on how to wear and look after the proscribed respiration gear.

Important aspects of breathing apparatus selection include:

  • hazard identification and control
  • exposure assessment
  • respirator fit-testing
  • inspection and record keeping
  • cleaning and sanitizing respirators
  • proper storage of respirators

Alberta’s health and safety legislation, provincial respirator programs include a number of requirements for employers, supervisors, and workers. They describe the proper procedures for selecting and operating respiratory protective equipment, and outline the various hazards that need to be considered in order to keep workers safe.

For instance, the correct use of a respirator is just as important as selecting the proper respirator. Employers and workers may be unaware that long sideburns, or even just a few days of stubble could cause a respirator mask to leak, and therefore fail to protect a worker.

A proper respiratory protection program includes such components as:

  • hazard identification and control
  • exposure assessment
  • respirator selection
  • respirator fit-testing
  • cleaning and sanitizing respirators

This is where the expertise at Orion Safety Equipment can help ensure your respirator program has no gaps. At Orion we’ve got 124 years of collective experience in industrial safety. And we’ve been using our safety equipment expertise since 2007 to make job sites safer for hundreds of companies and thousands of projects in Alberta.


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