According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) now offers a training video for health care workers that explains proper respirator use and procedures that will assure workers are protected from airborne hazards.

The 33-minute video outlines the major components of a respiratory protection program including fit-testing, medical evaluations, training and maintenance. The video also discusses the difference between respirators and surgical masks and features a segment on common respiratory hazards found in health care settings, including airborne infectious agents that cause diseases such as tuberculosis, pandemic influenza, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), chicken pox and measles.

Demonstrations also show how respirator use helps protect workers from exposure to airborne chemical hazards such as formaldehyde and glutaraldehyde, which are used commonly in hospital laboratories to preserve tissue samples for medical analysis. These toxic substances can cause eye and nasal irritation, headaches, asthma and other symptoms. Additionally, formaldehyde is a carcinogen and has been linked to nasal and lung cancer, with possible links to brain cancer and leukemia.

“Employers can’t rely on respirators providing the expected protection if they don’t train their workers on how to use them properly,” said OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels. “This video is an important training tool that teaches proper respirator use and discusses employers’ responsibilities under OSHA’s respiratory protection standard.”

Visit OSHA’s Respiratory Protection safety and health topic page for more respirator safety and health information.