The main types of protective equipment in use for nickel exposures are those designed to provide respiratory protection.7 Of particular importance is the use of respirators. Respirators may be used as an exposure control measure under certain circumstances. An appropriate authority should be consulted for guidance on respirator use (see below). Respirator use in fire fighting and similar emergencies is beyond the scope of this document.
The first step in developing a program for the effective use of respirators is to establish a written policy, including the following:
- management and employee responsibilities,
- respirator selection,
- respirator fitting, including in some circumstances, fit-testing,
- employee instruction and training, including procedures for cleaning, inspection, maintenance and storage,
- medical screening and
- program evaluation.
(7) Although not specific to the nickel industry, the need for equipment to protect eyes, face, ears, head, and feet also may need to be considered, depending upon the task to be performed.
Some jurisdictions have detailed rules for respirator use. The European Directive 88/656/EEC on the use of PPE governs the use of respirators in the EU. In the U.S., OSHA enforces Standard 1910.134 [29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.134] for respiratory protection of workers. In Canada, provincial government agencies have regional-specific requirements.