NIOSH has issued the first approval for a respirator that complies with the new requirements for closed-circuit escape respirators (CCERs).
The approval comes approximately nine months ahead of the deadline established for companies to transition to the new requirements. The new requirements are intended to strengthen emergency respiratory protection for workers relying on the devices during life-threatening escape situations.
NIOSH issued the approval to Avon Protection Systems Inc. for the company’s ER-2 EEBD, which is certified as a Cap I, 20-liter CCER for use in non-mining applications. The device provides the user with 20 liters of oxygen to escape from atmospheres considered to be immediately dangerous to life and health.
“The improvements made to these devices under the new standard include features and capabilities such as sensors to warn the user of any change to the device performance and the capability for devices to withstand more rugged environments,” said Maryann D’Alessandro, Ph.D., director of the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory, the NIOSH Division responsible for certifying respirators. “In addition, enhanced evaluations using a breathing simulator establish a more reliable testing process.”
NIOSH established the new testing and certification requirements in 2012. The purpose of the updated requirements is to enable NIOSH to more effectively ensure the performance, reliability and safety of CCERs.
Known in the Navy and commercial shipping industry as emergency-escape breathing devices/apparatus (EEBD/EEBA) and in the mining community as self-contained self-rescuers (SCSR), closed-circuit escape respirators are the most compact technology capable of providing self-contained, breathable air to workers in emergencies, such as escape from a shipboard fire below deck or a smoke-filled mine from a mine fire, according to NIOSH.
The devices also are found in work environments such as tunneling operations in construction and in locomotive cabs on freight trains carrying hazardous materials. Due to their compact size, CCERs often are carried on a worker’s belt or stored nearby so they can be accessible in an emergency.
Closed-circuit technology re-circulates and replenishes the user’s breathing air, making the most efficient use of the oxygen it contains. Carbon dioxide is chemically removed, and oxygen is replenished from either chemical reaction, or from a compressed-oxygen supply. The newly certified product relies upon compressed gaseous oxygen.