SCBA stands for self-contained breathing apparatus. This is a device that is designed to provide breathable air to the person who is wearing it. They are primarily going to be used in environments where the atmosphere is hazardous to the life or health of the person who is wearing it. Having a steady supply of air is essential in these types of dangerous environments.
There are many different types of breathing apparatuses available. To be self-contained, the unit must not require a remote supply of breathable air. This means things that have an air supply line that goes from the person wearing it to another location would not qualify.
One of the most seen types of SCBA equipment are those worn by firefighters. They need the breathable air because they are often entering buildings or other areas that are filled with smoke, which can be deadly. Bringing the supply of air with them allows them to enter these dangerous areas to put out fires or rescue victims. Another commonly seen option is the SCUBA (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) gear, which is worn by divers in the water.
Many industries have SCBA gear for their employees to wear as well. In mining environments, for example, it may be necessary to bring breathable air to a location that is either too confined for fresh air to reach, or for areas that have dangerous gasses or other toxic things in the atmosphere.
At a minimum, SCBA gear will need to have some sort of tank that contains the breathable air, a mask that goes over or into the mouth or nose, and a supply tube between them. In most cases, the mask will fully enclose the mouth and nose to prevent accidental inhalation of the dangerous atmosphere. In some situations, the SCBA gear will be incorporated into other personal protective equipment such as a helmet, fireproof clothing, and more.
Companies that have employees working in environments where the air is not breathable will need to make sure they always have regulatory compliant respiratory equipment available for use.
Similar Glossary Terms
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- Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S)
- OSHA 1910.132 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Air-Purifying Respirator