Respiratory Protection

Inadequate respiratory protection is one of the Top 5 most frequently cited violations by OSHA. Choosing the proper respiratory protection for personnel in painting, powder coating, grinding, blasting, and welding is essential.   

NIOSH approves N, P, and R series rated particulate respirators. N series filters are suitable for most dusty conditions free of oil aerosols, such as sanding or grinding. R and P series are rated for oil and non-oil particles with use limitations, for fumes from torch cutting or welding and from odors associated with brewing or paper processing. The N95 filter is rated for particulate environments, and the numbers 95, 99 or 100, indicate the NIOSH filtration efficiency. Your application will determine which series and filtration efficiency is needed.

Disposable Respirators
Dust masks and respirators provide protection ranging from disposable nuisance dust masks, to NIOSH-approved filters. Disposable respirators have become more lightweight and comfortable. Exhaust valves provide easy exhale, prevents eye-wear fogging, and gives the wearer cooler comfort. Nose pieces are adjustable for fewer pressure points and greater fit. New comfort straps and adjustable buckles are available on some styles for a secure, comfortable fit. 

Reusable Respirators:
NIOSH approves manufacturers' respirator systems, not individual components. To be compliant, masks, head tops, filters, breathing tubes, air lines, flow, or climate controls must be part of a manufacturers approved system. Parts from different manufacturers cannot be pieced together to build an approved respiratory system.   

Respiratory systems are classified as negative or positive pressure.


Negative Pressure Respirators are available in half mask and full face models.The wearer must inhale through the filters. Disposable filter cartridges are used and must be approved for the specific type of contaminants, vapor, and particulate size. Wearers must be fit-tested to assure proper face seal is achieved. Some half-faced masks can be worn under welding hoods to provide protection from fumes.

Positive Pressure Type C Airline Constant-Flow Respirators are available in half or full mask models. The supplied air can be from compressed air or an ambient air pump, must be Grade D breathable air, utilize air filters and CO Monitors. Air flow control valves and climate tubes can be utilized with compressed air. Mask wearers must be fit tested.

Positive Pressure Type C Airline Constant-Flow Hood-Style Respirators are available in soft hoods or helmet models. The hoods have built-in suspension, and some models can fit over hard hats for operator protection. Most models have optional peel-away lens covers to protect from over spray to provide longer service life of the hood.  

The hoods when compared to masks, have many advantages including, greater comfort and improved productivity. Hoods do not require fit testing or extensive record keeping. Hoods can easily accommodate beards, prescription eye wear, safety glasses, or goggles. Air flow control includes continuous flow, adjustable flow, and climate tubes.

Powered Air-Purifying Respirators, commonly referred to as PAPR’s, offer flexible options for mask, hood, and helmet-style respirators. PAPR systems can offer respiratory protection with integrated head, eye and face protection.  
OSHA’s Assigned Protection Factor (APF) highest rating of 1000, can be achieved with full hoods models, soft or hard, when used as part of a NIOSH approved powered or supplied air respiratory system.

PAPR’s use a battery powered fan to draw in ambient air through filter cartridges and delivers air to the respirator mask, hood or helmet. Hard hat rated helmet options are available.

PAPR’s eliminate the need for operators to pull air supply lines and doesn’t limit their work zone. There are PAPR systems that have been NIOSH approved for blasting and welding applications. PAPR hoods have become very popular with powder coaters. Some models are Intrinsically Safe, and can be used in liquid paint applications, or in Hazardous Classified Locations.


Most PAPR units are equipped with battery status gauges and integrated alarms to notify the operator of low battery or low air flow. Battery life continues to extend, up to 13 hours of operation on a single charge. Filter cartridges are available to meet most organic vapors and particulate standards.  

Air Supply 

Proper set up for supplied air respirators include a CO monitor and air filtration for the operators.  For additional information, please refer to the Breathable Air page.

Additional protection items include, coveralls, boot covers, head socks and gloves. Please refer to the Hand & Body page for additional information.