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Draeger Self-Rescuer Users Should Check Devices, Seek Substitutes for Problem Units

NIOSH Update:

Contact: Fred Blosser (202) 260-8519
July 10, 2000

Users of the Draeger Inc. OxyK-Plus self-contained self-rescuer (SCSR) respirator should check the units in their possession for a problem that may render the emergency devices unusable, and should obtain substitutes for damaged units as quickly as possible, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) urges.

NIOSH’s warning in a notice to respirator users was prompted by recent examinations that found particles of potassium superoxide, an irritant chemical, in the breathing tubes and mouthpieces of some Draeger SCSRs used in mines. The material, which is a component of the chemical cartridges used in the devices, can seriously irritate and possibly burn the respiratory tract when inhaled.

“Anything that interferes with the proper operation of an SCSR may be life-threatening when a worker dons the device in an emergency,” noted NIOSH Director Linda Rosenstock, M.D., M.P.H. “As we in NIOSH work with the manufacturer and the Mine Safety and Health Administration to alert employers and workers and to determine how this problem occurred, we strongly urge users to ensure that they have undamaged units on hand.”

SCSRs are designed for one-time use as a temporary source of oxygen for workers in emergencies in mines and in other workplaces. For example, they may be used by miners escaping from dangerous accumulations of carbon monoxide in mine shafts or by construction workers escaping from a similar hazard in tunnels. Individual units are sealed in casings until use, to protect components from being adversely affected by moisture or by foreign substances such as dust and dirt.

Because these conditions preclude visual inspection of interior parts such as the mouthpiece and the breathing tube, users should check for possible defects by inspecting the exterior of the sealed unit and shaking the device. If the unit rattles or makes any other kind of noise when shaken, damage is indicated and the device should be removed from service. Users also should follow Draeger’s user instructions, check the casing for damage or missing parts, and contact the manufacturer for further guidance at 1-800-858-1739 or 1741.

For further information, see the NIOSH respirator users’ notice on the World Wide Web at For other NIOSH information on respirators, call the toll-free NIOSH information number, 1-800-35-NIOSH (1-800-356-4674) or visit NIOSH on the NIOSH site.