Understanding Different Types of Masks and Respirators

Understanding Different Types of Masks and Respirators

If you’re working in construction or plan to be on-site during a project, you should plan to wear personal protective equipment (PPE). In addition to proper footwear, it’s also important to know which kinds of protective face wear to use so you can avoid breathing in dust and chemical fumes. Here’s what you need to know about the different types of masks and respirators.

Cloth Masks

Cloth masks have become incredibly popular over the last couple of years, and you’re likely to see them during a property renovation. These masks might have ties or ear loops, or fit around the face like a neck warmer. While the fabric and number of layers vary, all cloth masks help protect you from splashes and breathing in dust particles.

N95 Respirators

Once you start looking at masks that prevent inhaling microorganisms and airborne chemicals, you’ll see the term “respirator” used instead of “mask.” This change in vocabulary is meant to distinguish between PPE that can protect you from physical particles and pieces that protect from microscopic biological and chemical dangers. If you’ll be working around cleaning supplies or aerosols, an N95 respirator is a good choice.

Face Shields

When considering all the different types of masks and respirators, face shields are another option. They’re just what they sound like—devices that protect your face from things like splashes and sparks. Unlike a pair of goggles, they protect your whole face; you’ll see them on welders and people using heavy equipment.

Elastomeric Respirators

There are two main types of elastomeric respirators. One type covers the entire face and seals off the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, while the other type only covers the mouth and nose. You will recognize these respirators by the two round filters, one on each side of the mask. Different types of filters help protect from vapors, particles, and even gases.

Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA)

You’re unlikely to spot people using SCBAs on your property, unless there’s a fire. SCBAs create an isolated environment for the wearer, protecting them from gases, smoke, splashes, dust, and microorganisms. Each one has its own air supply, making them the bulkiest and most expensive form of respirator PPE.

When using PPE on construction sites, it’s vital that you follow best practices for putting on PPE. If you don’t, you could unintentionally render your PPE ineffective, putting your safety at risk.

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Written by Dianne Pajo

Dianne Pajo is a writer based out of the Chicagoland area with a passion for music, combat sports, and animals. She enjoys competing in amateur boxing and kickboxing, but in her other leisure time, you can find her performing music around the city. She is also a dog mom of 2.

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