Occupational health

News from the Collaborating Centres for Occupational Health

Respiratory Protection Program Development: developing and disseminating evidence-based prevention tools and raise awareness for the prevention of silica- and other dust-related diseases

Heinz W Ahlers (Hha2@cdc.gov), NIOSH; Juan Alcaino (jalcaino@ispch.cl), ISP, Chile; Reynaldo Concha (rconcha@ispch.cl), Chile ISP, Colombia; Alejandro Morales (AMORALES@mutual.cl), Mutual Seguridad, Chile

Cooperative efforts have been ongoing by the Chilean occupational safety and health regulatory authority, ISP, the workers compensation insurance entities in Chile and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in the US to increase awareness of proper respirator use and maintenance in Chilean mining operations. US OSHA has cooperated with NIOSH in developing worker information videos for US workers.

Many industries in the Americas rely on half face-piece particulate respirators to protect the workers from exposures to dust. This is particularly prevalent for silica dust exposures in mining. For the successful use of respirators, a respiratory protection program needs to be in place to properly train workers, select respirators, evaluate respirator fit and assure proper respirator maintenance. This program will adapt the current US programs for presentation to Spanish speaking workers and modified for the specific need of the target population. The program has also been extended to take advantage of newly available videos developed by the US OSHA for workers covering elements of the respiratory protection program.

The target groups are medium and small business (SME) operators in the Americas using particulate respirators to protect against toxic dust exposure, especially silica dust. To date, Mutual Seguridad is developing a pilot program for evaluation of the respiratory protection program text and video in selected workplaces in Chile. The program is being cleared by ISP, Chile with some voluntary consulting for US OSHA. Pending the results of the pilot project, the respiratory protection model program will see widespread adoption in workplaces requiring respiratory protection. So far, two mines have been visited and ISP support has been gained and three information videos are currently available with Spanish translations.

Collaboration on this project with other Collaborating Centres for Occupational Health or members from the Global Network, as well as other partners is welcomed. In case of interest, please contact the authors.

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