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OSHA Issues Defective Respirator Alert

Friday, April 27, 2012

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Federal safety officials have alerted employers and workers to a “critical defect” in a commercial respirator used in chemical and wastewater plants, tunneling, confined spaces and other life-threatening applications.

Some of CSE Corporation’s SR-100 Self-Contained Self-Rescuers (SCSR) “have a critical defect that may cause the release of insufficient oxygen during start-up, a defect that could immediately result in a life-threatening situation for workers using the respirator,” the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said in an alert issued late Thursday (April 26). 

 CSE Corporation’s SR-100 Self-Contained Self-Rescuers (shown here opened and unopened) have a defect that could interfere with oxygen flow, OSHA said.


Some of CSE Corp.'s SR-100 Self-Contained Self-Rescuers (shown here opened and unopened) have a defect that could interfere with oxygen flow, OSHA said.

“Employers should immediately take steps to replace these respirators with a different NIOSH-approved self-rescuer or other respirator suitable for emergency escape protection,” said Dr. David Michaels, OSHA Administrator.

Replacement Required

Employers must remove the equipment from service no later than May 31, 2012, in accordance with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Respirator User Notice “Loss of Start-Up Oxygen in CSE SR-100 Self-Contained Self-Rescuers” of April 26, 2012.

The notice determined that the units had an unacceptable defect rate and no longer conformed to the minimum requirements for certification under 42 CFR Part 84.

NIOSH said in that notice that the agency had uncovered the defect during a routine inspection of the equipment as used in coal mines. In that inspection, two units lacked sufficient start-up oxygen. The manufacturer then discovered lack of start-up oxygen in one unit in production, according to NIOSH.

NIOSH and CSE said the company voluntarily ceased production of the SR-100, but the unit was still showing as available Friday on CSE’s site.

NIOSH and the Mine Safety and Health Administration then conducted a test of 500 units out of approximately 70,000 now in use nationwide. Five of units were found to be defective, which is above the threshold set by the American Society for Quality.

“Accordingly,” OSHA said, “employers and employees should no longer rely upon this device as an escape respirator during emergencies.”

Standards and Applications

OSHA’s Underground Construction Standard (29 CFR 1926.800(g)(2)) requires the use of self-rescuer respirators. They are also identified as one approach to emergency escape respiratory protection for sewer workers under the Permit-required Confined Spaces Standard (29 CFR 1910.146, Appendix E) and may also be found in chemical/pulp paper plants.

Under OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard (29 CFR 1910.134), employers must provide training to ensure that workers know what to do should their SCSR fail to activate.   Employers and workers should immediately obtain another SCSR if they encounter any difficulty with the operation of an SCSR. 

“When workers need to escape from a dangerous situation, effective and reliable respiratory protection is essential,” said Michaels.

About the SR-100

The SR-100 has been in use since 1989.

In a statement Thursday, CSE said it had been “upfront, transparent and maintained open lines of communication” with NIOSH, MSHA and its customers about the units.

The company cited prior MSHA reports documenting “at least 30 miners have been saved from critical situations by donning the CSE SR-100 in the last decade.”

It added: “It is important to note, CSE voluntarily ceased production of the SR-100 when the company’s internal quality control process identified a possible issue with the oxygen cylinder.

“We are in the process of communicating our action plan to each of our customers and we will comply with all required timelines set by the government. We will continue to support our customers throughout the mining and non-mining industries.”

For more information on the alert, visit or call 1.800.321.OSHA (6742).


Tagged categories: Chemical Plants; Confined space; OSHA; Respirators; Wastewater Plants

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