February 12th, 2016 8:00 am ET - Jaclyn Krah, MA
We here at NIOSH LOVE respirators. That’s why every Valentine’s day, we blog about important respirator considerations. It’s our version of an information-packed love letter. In 2014 we discussed essential maintenance tips for self-contained self-rescuers (SCSRs), also known as closed-circuit escape respirators (CCERs). Since that blog entry, the implementation of a new CCER standard (42 C.F.R. Part 84, Subpart O) took effect. The transition to the updated standard took place over a 3-year period, beginning in 2012.
A CCER is a lifesaving respiratory device used by Navy and Coast Guard crews working below decks on vessels, as well as in industries such as the mining and railroad industries. During emergencies, CCERs enable users to escape from atmospheres that can be immediately dangerous to life and health. CCERs are categorized by their oxygen capacity. The duration, or how long the CCER will last for the user to escape the hazardous environment, is based on two things: (1) the total amount of oxygen available to the user (i.e. capacity) and (2) the oxygen consumption rate. For example, 30 liters of oxygen would last longer for someone sitting still than it would if that same person was running at 5 mph. In order to better ensure the reliability and performance of CCERs, the new standard for approval requires that these respirators be tested using automated breathing metabolic simulators. Additionally, CCERs under this standard must include thermal exposure indicators as well as indications of damage to oxygen storage systems or carbon dioxide scrubbing systems.
Let’s talk about our future together…
This change in the standard will have an effect on those who use or purchase CCERs in their workplace. Units produced under the former standard (42 C.F.R. Part 84, Subpart H) can only be purchased for one year after a CCER of a similar capacity has been approved under the new standard (42 C.F.R. Part 84, Subpart O). After this point, only units produced under the new standard should be on the market. For example, on January 4, 2016, NIOSH and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) approved the first large-capacity (Cap 3) CCER for use in underground coal mining. Therefore, manufacturers can continue to manufacture, label, and sell Cap 3 CCERs approved under the former standard until January 4, 2017.
We know that you have many other things to worry about other than how long your current CCER is going to be on the market. (Including your Valentine’s Day plans. Hope you made those dinner reservations early!) So, we’ve tried to make this easy for you. We’ve made a chart of final sell dates for CCERs approved under 42 CFR Part 84 Subpart H. You can also find the current CCER approvals by referencing the NIOSH Certified Equipment List.
And don’t worry. We’re not asking you to “break up” with your current CCER units just yet. A previously purchased unit can be used until the end of its service life indicated by the date shown on the unit’s label.
Having high standards isn’t easy sometimes. But in the end, it makes for happier relationships and safer respirator users. Have a happy (and safe) Valentine’s Day!
Jaclyn Krah, MA, is a Health Communications Specialist in the in the NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory.