Protection Against Small Particles: All About Construction Masks

Wearing a face mask might be new to some of us, but for 5 million workers in the US, it’s part of the daily grind.

Wearing a construction mask is mandatory in many industries involving hazardous substances. Find out more about how and why construction masks help keep these professionals safe.

How Do Construction Masks Work?

A construction face mask works the other way around when compared to an ordinary cloth mask.

These now-commonplace cloth varieties protect others from our respiratory droplets. A construction mask protects the wearer from exterior threats.

These masks can filter the tiniest particles out of the air.

In this way, they keep workers’ airways and lungs safe from the harmful effects of ongoing exposure to airborne substances common in construction. These include dust, asbestos fibers, and vapors from toxic substances.

Some of them, like the 3M 9205, are 95% effective against non-oil-based contaminants, while others offer almost 100% protection in ideal circumstances. The more protection a mask offers, the more it can hamper breathing.

Types of Construction Masks

For the ultimate protection, it’s important to choose the best face mask for construction work depending on the substances involved.

There are two main construction mask types, these are:

Non-Powered Face Masks (Negative Pressure Respirators)

These face masks work as a barrier to external contaminants. They’re rated according to their effectiveness against particular elements.

N-series masks work against dust, but not oil, R-series masks can resist oil for one shift, while P-series masks remain oil-proof. All these masks work against mineral dust like silica unless there’s a source of oil mist, such as a percussion drill, in the workplace.

Most workers opt for N95 and P100 masks while carrying out their daily duties. These include two main types of masks:

  • Reusable half-masks with intake and exhaust valves and a replaceable filter
  • Filtering facepiece respirators, offering low maintenance and added comfort

Powered Respirators (PAPRs)

PAPRs draw air through the filter using a fan. It’s easier to breathe through these respirators than negative-pressure masks.

They’re battery-powered and have three filter classes, namely PAPE100-N, PAPR100-P, and HE. All these filter types offer 99.97% efficiency.

PAPRs usually have a hard hat design featuring a face visor. In this way, they offer protection for the lungs, head, face, and eyes at once with little breathing resistance.

Getting the Most Out of a Respirator

If you need to wear a construction mask at work, it’s vital to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. Although protecting yourself with a tightly sealed mask is imperative, comfort is also important.

Try different size respirators and various brands before settling on the right fit for you. Leaks can degrade respirator effectiveness.

Stay Safe at Work and Home

Construction masks do much to protect construction workers from debilitating unseen occupational hazards. They’re also important for DIY projects involving noxious substances, like paint.

Although no laws govern what you wear while engaged in private projects, it’s still a good idea to take a cue from OHSA regulations when you do.

To understand about Construction Equipment industry, Read here

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