What does a Dust Mask Protect you from?

Your dust mask is the last resolve if you’re present in any hazardous environment. It’s important for the workers to know how important a dust mask is and what does a dust mask protects you from? This information is vital as most of the workers deterred from wearing it and lack the awareness of how important it is to wear it right.

It’s important to raise awareness about the benefits of wearing respirators correctly. Workers should know how to carry a fit check and the importance of fit testing? The most important question that arises is why should I wear a mask? All these queries must be answered correctly to them.

FFP1 masks are mainly used at the construction sites that involve protection against non-toxic materials like – brick dust, cement, limestone, coal dust, pollen, etc. It effectively filters 80% of the particles present in the environment.

FFP3 mask gives the highest level of protection and are used in the presence of toxic hazards like asbestos, radioactive dust, viruses, etc. These masks filter 99% of the particles present in the breathing air.

What does a Dust Mask Protect you from?

The main benefit you will get by wearing a protective mask is that you will not fell ill. Masks protect you from the illnesses that will affect your airways. Thus, reducing the quality and length of your life. Masks act as a protective shield between you and the hazard present in the breathing air.

Failing to properly wear your mask can lead to shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing, coughing, wheezing and chest tightness. These symptoms occur due to accidental inhalation of substance. Long-term exposure to the hazard can result in death.

The common reasons why most workers are hesitant of wearing respiratory equipment are either –

  • There are not able to breath properly through the mask.
  • They think it’s a quick job and the short exposure to hazard might not adversely affect their health and will cause only a little discomfort that’s ok for them.
  • The workers think they don’t need to wear masks.
  • One other issue is that it gets hot and uncomfortable to wear the dust mask.
  • It makes it awkward to work.
  • It interferes with the other PPE.
  • They don’t like to shave every day.
  • Some other worker never wears it and is never ill.

To spread awareness, it’s important to educate them with facts and tell them what their protective mask will protect them from –

  • You might be not able to see or feel the hazard but it’s present, in the environment and will definitely affect you.
  • Even a few minutes of exposure can cause severe illness in the workers.
  • Educate them with the fact that every year approximately 12000 people die due to long-term exposure to the hazards at the workplace.
  • Many hazardous substances are present in the form of fine dust or fume, gas or vapour that can’t be seen. Just like we can’t see the oxygen we breath.
  • The solution to the issue that it gets hot and uncomfortable after wearing a mask is to get involved in choosing the right mask for them. As employers provide different types of masks.
  • The discomfort will get reduced once you develop the habit of wearing the mask daily.
  • If the discomfort happens for a longer period ask your employer to provide a different mask that’s comfortable. As one size doesn’t fit all.
  • Some masks do require to be a tight fit to your face and might be uncomfortable to wear. A fit test should be conducted to determine if they’re a proper fit to your face.
  • If the trouble is that the mask interferes with the workers other PPE than a respirator that is the duty of the employer to sort out this problem. The mask shouldn’t interfere with the other PPE.
  • If the reason is that your mate never wears and never gets ill then you should know that not everyone gets affected in the same way and it takes time to develop effects and till then it will be too late to use any protection.
  • To stay healthy and do the job they need to be clean shaven. If due to some religious reasons it’s important to have a beard then you can use RPE that don’t require a tight seal and come in the form of hoods.

In the End

It’s important to wear the protective mask and use the other PPE when your employer informs you about the hazard. Like in any asbestos-laden environment it’s important to use asbestos removal bags in addition to the PPE that’s safe to use in an environment like this.