Rubber Industry

ARPM Rubber Manufacturing Blog

The ARPM Rubber Manufacturing Blog allows members to rapidly communicate with each other. Post both questions and answers to questions that other ARPM members have about any industry topic from material and process issues to R&E Tax Credits and other business issues.

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Rubber Manufacturing Blog / Equipment / Respirators for Operators
Posted:  09 Jun 2014 16:00
We have an operator who is requesting a respirator because of the irritation caused by the smoke coming out of the machines. Proven data/studies has confirmed that respirators are not necessary. The operator would still like to purchase one (basically a dust mask with a small respirator). Has anyone else had operators requesting respirators? What were the negatives/positives if one was provided?
Posted:  09 Jun 2014 16:30
My only caution here would be to make sure any safety equipment allowed in your factory is approved for use by a Doctor for that specific employee.Spirometry testing should be done to insure that employee can wear a respirator without creating another more serious issue. It's very possible the employee can have a sensitivity to particulates in the smoke but that needs to be identified beforehand so the proper equipment can be specified and approved.Failure to do so could possibly create a worse situation and potential liability issue for the company.

Jim M.  G.M.
Posted:  09 Jun 2014 18:58   Last Edited By: Blair Rubber
Dito to Jum above. We have a respirator program. So employees are tested (Lung Capacity) and recorded and tracked yearly to make sure we dont cause more harm than good. We try engineering controls, then PDs then if all else fails and they are still experiencing health issues they have to find another job. Dave Jentzsch
Posted:  09 Jun 2014 20:41
Charlie, an addtional resource that could help you would be Lorie Smith at Hexpol - GoldKey.  On my last visit, she reviewed their latest revision to their entire respirator program.  Great documentation and a great understanding of the requirements.  I've included her email below and have contacted her to add comentary to this discussion.

Hexpol - GoldKey
Lori Smith
Human Resources Manager
Middlefield, OH   
Phone:  440-632-6103
Email lori.smith(at)   


Troy Nix
Posted:  10 Jun 2014 13:19
We have had a similar experience with an employee claiming an exposure due to rubber fume.  We have conducted IH sampling and have ruled out any exposure issues.  The employee was provided with a respirator based on the treating physicians recommendations and only as a precautionary measure. As noted in the previous posts OSHA does require employers to have respiratory protection programs if employees are required to wear respirators. The link below provides OSHA's requirements for "Employee Voluntary Use of Respirators". ...

Alexis Weir, CRSP