That’s Not a Respirator

That’s Not a Respirator

Hello-I’m Jill, Chief Safety Officer with Vivid Learning Systems.

Sometimes, actually most of the time, a Not-So-Great Moment in Safety History is a local history, one that only you, your company or your community may know and yet, it was clearly not a great moment.

One such moment for me, was a day in the 1990’s when I was called upon to inspect a construction site. The employees were working to replace a flat roof. The roofing material they were removing contained asbestos. On that day, I observed an employee wearing a red bandana over his mouth and nose to allegedly protect him from asbestos fibers and in the center of the bandana was a small hole, just large enough for his cigarette to fit allowing him to work and smoke simultaneously.

As ridiculous as this seems in the minds of us who understand respiratory protection and carcinogens, we cannot make assumptions. Many of the Not-So-Great Moments that we witness in our work, often come from a place of not knowing. We can never assume nor should we, that everyone understands workplace hazards particularly if perhaps they’ve never been trained.

Please allow this personal not-so-great-moment in workplace safety to propel you to ask your employees what health hazard they believe their respirator is capable of protecting them from and if they’ve been trained to understand it’s limitations.

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