Maintenance and Storage of Respirators
Single-use, disposable respirators (e.g., N95 respirator) must be disposed of after use or once soiled, damaged, or if it becomes difficult to breathe while wearing it, whichever occurs first.
Non-disposable respirators must be properly maintained to retain its original effectiveness. Maintenance includes periodic inspections, cleaning, disinfecting, proper storage, and repair of respirators used by employees. If respirators are modified in any way, their protection factors may be reduced.
- Respirators must be inspected before each use and during cleaning after each use. A record of inspection dates, findings, and repairs should be maintained.
- All respirators maintained for emergency situations must be inspected at least monthly and per the manufacturer’s recommendations for proper functioning before and after each use.
- Inspections must include:
- A check of respirator function, tightness of connections and the condition of the face-piece, head-straps, valves, connecting tube, cartridges, and canister or filters.
- A check of rubber or elastomeric parts for pliability and signs of deterioration.
- Each respirator must be cleaned and sanitized. Respirators should be cleaned and disinfected as outlined in Appendix 5. Frequency of cleaning and disinfecting are as follows:
- An individually assigned respirator which is used routinely must be cleaned as often as necessary to keep it in sanitary condition.
- Respirators kept for emergency/rescue use or fit-testing must be cleaned and disinfected after each use.
- After cleaning, the respirator must be inspected to identify any defects or damage. Respirators which do not pass inspection must be removed from service and brought to the supervisor’s attention immediately.
- All repairs must be completed based on manufacturer’s recommendations with replacement parts designated for the respirator.
- Only a qualified person with proper tools and replacement parts should repair respirators beyond the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- After a respirator has been inspected and cleaned, it must be stored in a manner that protect it from damage, contamination, dust, sunlight, face-piece deterioration, extreme temperatures, excessive moisture, and damaging chemicals. Manufacturer’s storage instructions are usually furnished with new respirators, and they should be followed.
- Each non-emergency respirator must be stored in a plastic bag to protected it from contamination or damage, such as deformation of the face-piece or exhalation valve. Respirators should be allowed to dry after use and cleaning, prior to storage in a plastic bag as the respirator may be damp after use. The sealing of a damp respirator in a plastic bag prevents dryness and encourages microbial growth. Keep in mind that a respirator will become distorted and the straps will lose their elasticity if hung on a peg for a long time.
- Cartridges must be stored, with their original seals intact, in their sealed plastic bag until ready for use.