[ RadSafe ] Efficiency of Workers Wearing Respiratory Protection

Hansen, Richard HansenRG at nv.doe.gov
Thu Jun 10 12:55:44 CDT 2010


The Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL ALARA CENTER) had the following
1996 report of a physical study that concluded respirator use does not
increase the time workers need to perform certain tasks and therefore,
will not significantly increase the radiation exposure time of workers
completing tasks in external fields.

Objectives: To determine if respiratory protection issuance will affect
worker efficiency and
to what degree Full face piece air purifying respirators are an
effective means of decreasing worker Inhalation of airborne radioactive
particles in the nuclear power plant environment. However, it has been
frequently assumed that respirators slow workers' performance by as much
as 25%.
Consequently, there is concern that respirator use might actually
increase whole body
radiation exposure by prolonging the time workers spend in fields of
high radiation.
Comments: Twenty nuclear power plant workers were trained to perform two
types of
standardized tasks. A dexterity test simulated work requiring a light
level of exertion. A bolt
tightening task requiring 350 ft-lbs of torque was the standardized task
selected to simulate
work requiring strenuous effort. During both the morning and afternoon
of the test day,
subjects performed a dexterity test, the bolt torquing task, and a
second dexterity test In
sequence. Performances were videotaped and time coded to quantify the
time to complete
tasks. Each subject performed all the tests with and without the
respirator and the times to
complete the standardized tasks were compared. An important feature of
the study was that
all testing was performed In an environmental chamber with the high
ambient temperature
and humidity characteristic of plant environment. Wearing respirators
had no statistically
significant effect on the times required to complete either the
dexterity test or the bolt torquing test. With 95% confidence, the mean
percentage difference in time to complete a strenuous task with
respirator was between 1 % faster to 5% slower. Further, workers
subjective perceptions correlated poorly with the times recorded on
Remarks: An important Industry objective is to decrease the total body
radiation exposure 0
workers to a level as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA). This study
suggests that
respirator use does not Increase the time workers need to perform
certain tasks and therefore,
will not significantly Increase the radiation exposure time of workers
completing tasks In
external fields. However, it is important to note that this study was
not designed to assess the
effects of respirators on worker efficiency during certain tasks. Tasks
requiring communication
between workers, poorly lit work spaces, or cramped working environments
should be
reviewed on a case by case basis. In 1995 the research effort will
investigate the effects of
protective clothing (PC) on cardiorespiratory dynamics, i.e., additional
physiological (heart
and lung) stress from performing work in PCs.
1. Cardarelli, R., "Effects of Respirator Use on Worker Efficiency,"
EPRI Radiation Field Control and Chemical Decontamination Seminar,
Tampa, Florida,
November 6, 1995, available from Electric Power Research Institute, EPR!
Distribution Center,
P.O. Box 23205, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523.
2. "Effect of Respirators on Worker Efficiency," EPRI Report TR-I05J5Os,
October 1995.

Best regards,
Rick Hansen
Senior Scientist
Counter Terrorism Operations Support Program
National Security Technologies, LLC, for the U.S. Dept of Energy
hansenrg at nv.doe.gov

Date: Wed, 9 Jun 2010 15:04:27 -0600
From: "Treadaway, Walter A" <atreadaway at lanl.gov>
Subject: [ RadSafe ] Efficiency of Workers Wearing Respiratory
To: "radsafe at health.phys.iit.edu" <radsafe at health.phys.iit.edu>

It seems logical to assume that a worker doing a job wearing respiratory
protection would be slower than the same worker without respiratory
protection.  However, I can't find a reference in a peer-reviewed
publication to support this assumption.
Does anyone have a reference "in their back pocket" or can anyone point
me in the right direction?


Allen Treadaway for Ron Morgan, LANL

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