Original Date: 07/21/2003
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Respiratory Protection Program
Electric Boat Corporation, Quonset Point Facility consolidated its air-fed respiratory program under the direction of the Fire Marshal's Office. A disciplined, proactive approach has produced excellent results with improved employee involvement, competence, and confidence.
Traditional implementation and enforcement of the respiratory Program were left to individual supervisors. Fit testing was administered by the Safety Department, cleaning and distribution was performed by Security, and inventory control was performed by Production Support. This approach had no standardized, formal process and lacked standard sanitary and quality conditions across the shipyard’s large respirator inventory (Figure 2-12). Electric Boat Corporation, Quonset Point Facility (EBQP) completely revamped its respiratory protection program. Changes include expanded instruction, detailed standardized procedures, and the establishment of respiratory checks and reviews to ensure employees’ health and safety. EBQP is committed to maintaining the integrity and reliability of its air-fed respiratory systems, together with associated employee confidence and competence. Training methods stress the potential dangers with a direct “no nonsense” approach.
Implementation, enforcement, fit testing, cleaning and distribution, and inventory control were traditionally separate, but are now consolidated within the centralized Fire Marshal’s Office. This action recognized that separate efforts did not efficiently address respiratory system requirements. EBQP also ensured that employee confidence and competence were proactively addressed by means of this centralization. Rigorous inspection, cleaning, storage, and distribution provisions were provided as part of this program.
Fully cross-trained, multi-functional Fire and Safety Technicians conduct the training and confirm correct deployment of the air-fed respiratory equipment in the workplace before it is used. They also randomly monitor actual equipment use throughout the facility to ensure proper respiratory system use and functioning. Employees recognize that the Fire and Safety Technicians provide instruction for the program and actively share their concerns, frequently working side-by-side with them in the tanks. Employees also know that the Fire and Safety Technicians would be called on to effect confined space and medical rescue, if needed. This reality ensures that both parties recognize and cooperate to avoid or eliminate potential dangers. Employees now understand and appreciate that one source will answer any and all respiratory questions. Those answers increase employee training, competence, and confidence, while creating improved safety consciousness and safety results. Prevention has become practice, with no respiratory accidents since this consolidation.
Figure 2-12. Respirator Samples
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