What Are the Different Kinds of Respirator Training?

Troy Holmes

A respirator is a special breathing device that protects the lungs from harmful particles and viruses. Respirator training programs are designed to teach people the proper use and required maintenance for various types of respirators. Classes are typically organized by respirator type, which include medical, industrial, or simple mask respirators.

A man wearing a respirator.
A man wearing a respirator.

Respirators generally can be categorized in two groups, air purifying respirators or atmosphere supplying respirators. Each type of respirator has specific training classes. In the United States, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has outlined general respirator training requirements. These detail how a hood-based respirator should perform. These standards also spell out proper levels of oxygen and carbon monoxide in the mask, as well as minimum protection ratings for hazardous material.

Respirator training is offered in preparation for responding to hazardous material spills.
Respirator training is offered in preparation for responding to hazardous material spills.

Hazmat respirator training is specialized training that teaches a person how to use respirator gear specifically for hazardous chemical spills. They are part of suits that protect against chemicals, airborne viruses, and deadly radiation. Hazmat training includes learning proper cleaning, testing, and validation of hazmat suits.

The most common respirator used today is the air purifier respirator. This is a small mask that is seen in most hospitals. Air purifier respirator training classes teach a person how to use and dispose of these temporary masks. This type of mask provides minimal protection against airborne particles, but it is a good option for a disposable mask.

A cartridge respirator mask has small carbon filters to clean the air. People who work with harmful chemicals typically use this type of respirator. Air cartridge respirator training includes learning the necessary steps for cleaning and installing the device onto a person’s head. This includes safety testing that verify the filter is working properly before usage.

The most advanced respirator mask available is the atmosphere-supplying respirator. This is a special respirator that includes a full facial mask with a separate oxygen hose. Firefighters, hazardous material experts and hazardous disease control professionals use this type of mask. Advanced respirator training is typically required for this type of respirator.

Some workplace safety training includes information on using respirators. This is especially important for people who work with harmful chemicals. This typically includes the necessary steps to clean and maintain this specialized equipment.

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