Ask the expert: PPE requirements for cutting stainless steel without proper ventilation

In our latest installment of Ask the Expert, presented by the team of industry experts at EHS Hero®, we’re reviewing a recent question from a subscriber asking what the PPE requirements are for employees cutting stainless steel without proper ventilation. See what the experts had to say.

Q: What are the PPE requirements for employees involved in cutting stainless steel with a plasma cutter when ventilation is not adequate?

In addition to other common PPE worn when cutting stainless steel with a plasma cutter, such as shaded safety glasses; leather work gloves or welding gloves; a long-sleeved shirt made of natural fibers, welding sleeves or a welding jacket; and face shield, a worker should wear a respirator if work practices and ventilation do not reduce fume exposure to safe levels.

In accordance with the Respiratory Protection Standard (29 CFR 1910.134), an employer is required to assess respiratory hazards in the workplace, identify relevant workplace and user factors, and base the selection ventilator on these factors. Respirators must be NIOSH certified and be adequate to protect the health of the employee and ensure compliance with all other OSHA legal and regulatory requirements, in common and reasonably foreseeable emergencies. Since your workers will need to be protected against metallic fumes (fine particles) and gases produced during plasma cutting, you, as the employer, must provide either an air-supplied respirator or an air-purifying respirator. air. An air-purifying respirator may only be used if it is equipped with an end-of-life indicator (ESLI) certified by NIOSH for the contaminant or, if there is no appropriate ESLI for the contaminant. conditions in your workplace, you should implement a canister and cartridge change schedule based on objective information or data that will ensure that canisters and cartridges are changed before the end of their useful life. You should describe in your respiratory protection program what information and data you rely on, as well as the basis for the canister and cartridge replacement schedule and the basis for reliance on the data. (See 29 CFR 1910.134 (d) (3) (iii) for more information.)

Depending on the metals and coatings involved and if the work is being performed in a confined space, a supplied air respirator may be required. See 29 CFR 1910.252, “General Requirements” for welding, cutting and brazing. Since hot work with stainless steel can generate fumes containing nickel and hexavalent chromium, a powered air purifying respirator or supplied air respirator is commonly used and recommended. But again, you should base your selection of respirators on an assessment of workplace respiratory hazards and relevant workplace and user factors.

Finally, you may also consider using a mobile ventilation system that can be moved from location to location and has accessories that can reach tight spaces where normal ventilation may not be possible to reduce the risk of injury. smoke for your workers.

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