Do workers need different respirators during the summer months?

Q:

Do workers need different respirators during the summer months?

A:

While some respirators are intended for cold weather use, you won’t generally find ones specifically for use in hot weather. During those warm summer months, your standard respirator will work just fine.

With that said, every employee is unique and some have a more difficult time working with a respirator in extremely hot and humid conditions. Air purifying respirators can offer give breathing resistance during heavy work in these conditions, which causes additional stress to the wearer.

In cases where the summer heat or humidity creates discomfort, it’s important to address it as soon as possible. Workers are far less likely to use required PPE if it’s not comfortable, and this can place them in serious danger while on the job.

So what can you do? Perhaps the best solution is to opt for a lighter-weight respirator whenever possible during the summer months. Remember that you still need to account for fit and seal, and ensure that it meets the standards applicable to the hazards in your workplace.

If it’s not possible for employees to use a lightweight respirator throughout the summer, consider amending your work practices to accommodate them a different way. For example:

  • Scheduling work requiring the use of respirators for cooler periods in the day
  • Rotating tasks to ensure employees aren’t wearing a respirator for long periods of time
  • Offering regular breaks to cool down

The bottom line: while you don’t need a different respirator for the summer, it’s worth investing in lighter weight ones if your employees find their standard respirators uncomfortable in the high heat and humidity.

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Written by Jessica Barrett
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Jessica is a freelance writer, editor, and communications consultant. After starting her career in the travel industry, she branched out on her own in 2016 and hasn't looked back since. Jessica is a regular contributor to several websites and works with numerous small businesses and NGOs around the world to craft content for both online and offline platforms. When she isn't writing, you might find her practicing yoga or adventuring (aka eating) her way through a new country.

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