Escape Only Respirator

Last Updated: July 28, 2018

Definition - What does Escape Only Respirator mean?

An escape only respirator is a breathing apparatus designed to protect the wearer from inhaling toxic chemicals, fumes, gases, mists, and vapors during an emergency evacuation. Many variables lend to selecting the appropriate escape only respirator when vacating workplace premises in a critical situation. For instance, basic factors such as identity of a potential hazard(s), toxic concentrations, and exposure duration are often weighed as potential threats against employee health and safety. All businesses pose different hazards, ranging from moderate to severe, reflecting other primary facets associated with an individual’s occupation and/or environmental conditions.

WorkplaceTesting explains Escape Only Respirator

Emergency scenarios are often unpredictable leading to serious injury, trauma, and, in some cases, death. Companies who develop a strategic course of action that incorporates escape only respirators as a preventative measure against common hazardous materials, byproducts, and substances sets a precedent in health and safety protocol. A process hazard analysis (PHA) should be conducted by an employer to identify common fire hazards including flammable materials and toxic substances, observing all potential risks against an explosion, for example, resulting in chemical fallout and/or dense smoke permeation.

Different varieties of escape only respirators are available on the market such as self-contained escape respirators and air-purifying respirators. The self-contained escape respirator is comprised of a face-piece mask connecting to a pressurized air container supplying ample oxygen to the wearer operating as a multi-purpose, although bulky and expensive, alternative. Air-purifying respirator hoods are a preferable breathing apparatus since they are accessible, comfortable, cost-effective, easily portable, and versatile where disparate toxic concentration pollutants can cause oxygen levels to fluctuate.

In 2003, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) developed a certification program that assesses the quality of escape respirator devices on the market. The initiative was launched to evaluate respirator apparatuses against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) agents resulting from possible catastrophes, for instance, accidental leaks/spills and terrorist attacks.

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