Defective Respirators


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Many American employees require masks and respirators in various workplaces. Workers expect that the equipment they buy or supplied by their employers serves to protect their health, but that is not always the case. In some cases, defective respirators can lead to serious injury, cancers and occupational lung disease.

Respirators are meant to protect workers against environments with low oxygen, harmful dust, fog, smoke, chemical mist, gases, vapors, and sprays. These workplace safety hazards require personal protection, including respirators that comply with the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard.

Respirators protect users by removing contaminants in the air, filtering out airborne particles, chemicals and gases. Some other respirators supply clean air from another source, like self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), which provide their own air supply.

Respirators are vital pieces of equipment , and defective respirators can quickly injure an unprotected worker. Every year there are reports of defective respirators that  fail to meet OSHA safety standards, leading to lung injury and long-term consequences like cancers. Some occupational lung diseases include:

Numerous employers across the nation have failed to protect their workers over the last several decades, resulting in serious toxic exposure cases and occupational lung disease in former employees.

Workers in various industries including steel manufacturing, paper mills, mining, fracking, chemical production, auto plants, food production and the rubber industry have contributed to the public health problems facing thousands of American workers.

Workers have developed mesothelioma, pulmonary fibrosis, silicosis, interstitial lung disease, berylliosis, sarcoidosis, bronchiolitis obliterans, and metal lung disease after working with toxins while employers failed to prevent illnesses and provide proper safety protection. Employers who failed to warn workers of the danger or provide respiratory protection may be liable for occupational illnesses.

Joe Lyon is a Toxic Tort Attorney and Occupational lung disease lawyer reviewing workplace toxic exposure and lung cancer cases for plaintiffs nationwide.

Defective Respirators Lawsuits

Respirators may be made from cheap materials or may be defective by design. Workers and consumers who have suffered injuries or lost loved ones due to defective respirators can seek rightful compensation in a court of law by filing a product liability or workplace injury lawsuit. Companies who manufacture respirators have a duty to sell safe products, and when their products lead to injury, they may be held accountable. Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against 3M Co. Due to the alleged failure of its respirators to filter out small but deadly particles.

Companies that make dust masks and respirators include:

  • American Optical Corporation
  • Mine Safety Appliances
  • 3M (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company)

Types of Respirator Defects

The most common respirator defect is an improper fit. If a mask or respirator doesn’t fit a face properly, it may allow dust or gas to leak in. A proper mask should seal tightly against the face to prevent toxic exposure. Mask straps can also be defective.

Proper training is also important to know how to correctly put a mask on and wear it correctly. If the instructions are insufficient a manufacturer may be responsible for any injury that occurs. Respirators should be checked for a proper fit every time they are donned to ensure they provide adequate safety protection.

Industries and workers who may be at risk of lung injury due to defective masks and respirators include:

How Do Respirators Work?

First off, engineering control systems, such as adequate ventilation or scrubbing of contaminants, should be the primary control methods for reducing worker exposures to toxins. Personal protective equipment is an added safety mechanism.

Respirators operate by filtering small particles from the air, chemically cleaning the air, or supplying clean air from an external source. There are various kinds of respirators, each designed for a unique use, including the following:

  • Particulate respirators filter out dusts, fumes and mists. They are usually disposable or equipped with disposable filters. They should be replaced when they become discolored, damaged, or clogged.
  • Chemical Cartridge – Gas Mask Respirator – air-purifying respiratorsare masks that filter or clean chemical gases out of the air. These masks are effective only if used with the correct cartridge or filter for a particular chemical. Selecting the proper filter can be complex.
  • Powered Air-Purifying Respirator (PAPR)use a fan to draw air through the filter to the user and require a charged battery to work properly.
  • Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA)is the respirator commonly used by firefighters, which uses an oxygen tank to supply clean air.

Each type of respirator can come with its own set of warnings, limitations, and restrictions. Tight-fitting respirators require fit testing to ensure an adequate fit to the face, and should not be used with facial hair. Every respirator contaminated with toxic chemicals should be cleaned and decontaminated or disposed of properly.

Proper training is very important in regard to the storage, maintenance, use, and disposal of a respirator. Breathing through a respirator is more difficult than breathing normally, and those with lung diseases may have trouble breathing. Employees must be medically evaluated before assigned to use a respirator. Not all gas masks or respirators protect against certain safety hazards.

Proper Respirator Safety Questions

  • What protection (which chemicals and particles) does the respirator provide?
  • Which size should I use?
  • What type of training do I need?
  • Are there any special maintenance or storage conditions?
  • Will I be able to talk while wearing the respirator?
  • Does the hood restrict vision or head movement in any way?

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ABOUT THE LYON FIRM

Joseph Lyon has 17 years of experience representing individuals in complex litigation matters. He has represented individuals in every state against many of the largest companies in the world.

The Firm focuses on single-event civil cases and class actions involving corporate neglect & fraud, toxic exposure, product defects & recalls, medical malpractice, and invasion of privacy.

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The Firm offers contingency fees, advancing all costs of the litigation, and accepting the full financial risk, allowing our clients full access to the legal system while reducing the financial stress while they focus on their healthcare and financial needs.

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