Combining our health knowledge and recent literature Safe and Healthy look at the cost of using a Respirator mask to protect the worker from airborne contaminants.
We know that when users are required to wear a mask they cannot perform work as long or as hard while wearing the mask. But WHY??
Using a mask firstly affects: (Johnson, 2016)
- Temperature control
- Sneezing / Coughing
So simply wearing the mask there is a vision barrier that users have to work around, communication can be an issue and the ability of users to regulate their body temperature is impaired so heat will become an issue. You may need to give users more time to achieve a task or put more workers on a task to complete the job task in time.
Drilling down a little more, it becomes harder to breath when wearing the mask due to the filtration unit and users having to work harder to get the air in, which causes breathing fatigue (Babcock, 1996). This slows down the worker, in particular those with weak breathing muscles, and this is where testing comes in.
If you have workers in construction, healthcare, welding, steel manufacturing, glass manufacturing, food production that use masks on a daily basis its worthwhile introducing an easy measured program to test and improve breathing strength.
Using the masks causes the breathing muscles to get tired, this causes the worker to get tired. So lets take these muscles to the gym and improve the whole body effort a worker can achieve.