Protective masks for harmful tasks
From the medical industry to the construction industry, face masks can be an easy and relatively comfortable way to block germs, dust and other environmental debris. Face masks can be reusable or designed for a single use – medical masks should focus on fluid resistance and bacteria filtration to protect against blood and body fluids, while masks meant for industrial tasks are designed for different hazards. Learn what different industries require and how to choose face protection that will effectively defend against the environmental dangers in your workplace.
Protective Masks for Health Issues
A general disposable face mask protects against the spread of germs, but how about dust, sand and other potentially hazardous particles? Construction or cleaning tasks require a dust mask, which is worn like a surgical or paint mask, but is molded to fit snugly and is designed to keep out dust-sized particles. These masks are affordable and lightweight, and many have a bendable strip of aluminum attached to the outside and a foam strip on the inside to allow for a custom fit over the bridge of the nose. These designs often carry the N95 rating, which indicates that a mask complies with OSHA standards for construction sites.
A step up from the dust mask is the dust or particulate respirator, which provides a stronger seal and a more complex design to keep out mists as well as fine particles. Look for a mask certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), with an exhalation valve to reduce hot air buildup, and a sturdy shell to increase the life of the mask. This is a good choice for construction workers, as well as for those who work in electronics manufacturing and remodeling; industries that deal with hazardous vapors, radiation or other physical dangers require even more face protection.
Face Protection for Industrial Hazards
If your work exposes you to flying objects, harsh chemicals or radioactive light, you likely need a full face mask rather than a pair of safety glasses and a respirator. For welding and metal pouring, a hood or face shield approved by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration is necessary to protect your eyes and face, while a mask that is to be used with a paint sprayer needs to have superior ventilation and filtration. Gas masks provide the ultimate protection against hazardous chemicals, particles and bacteria because they use a particulate filter or activated charcoal to keep any unwanted matter out of your lungs.
Before you purchase face protection, consult the American National Standards Institute requirements for face masks in your industry. Be sure that you understand how to wear the mask properly, and check for any signs of leaks or damage to the material. If you are buying a full face or head mask, test the lens to ensure that it does not distort your vision. Some extra time and thought when choosing your face mask will ensure that you get the protection you are after.