Respiratory Protection Information – selecting a respirator
Workplace conditions such as temperature, humidity and work rate affect wearer comfort and the relevance of the different respirator features that are available.
A respirator must allow you the freedom to communicate easily with colleagues and fit well with the rest of your safety equipment.
Achieving a good fit is essential to the level of protection.
A leaking respirator could be perceived as comfortable, but is not much better than using no respirator at all.
Always select a respirator that meets the European Standard, is CE marked and offers you the right level of comfort and protection…..and ensure that you fit it correctly.
Nuisance dust masks
Many types of masks and respirators seem similar, but there are significant differences in the use of materials, design technology and protection levels.
Make sure you always use an approved respirator to protect your health.
Nuisance dust masks vs. Disposable respirators
These are typically white face masks with two straps and often an exhalation valve for improved comfort.
They are also printed with ‘EN149:2001’, the ‘CE’ mark and they are designed to provide effective protection against fine respirable dusts, mists and metal fumes.
Nuisance dust masks and gauze pads
These DO NOT meet the European Standard (EN149:2001) for respirators and are not CE marked, so they don’t have any of this information printed on the mask.
They do not provide protection against fine lung damaging dusts and cannot be used as personal protective equipment.
Checking that a respirator with a tight fitting facepiece provides an adequate seal to the wearer’s face has long been considered best practice as part of a general Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) programme.
Fit testing has been a mandatory requirement under the UK Asbestos Regulations and now, with the introduction of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulation 2002 (COSHH) and the supporting Approved Codes of Practice, fit testing is an industry wide requirement.
Fit testing should be carried out:
- On all wearers of RPE with tight fitting facepieces where fit testing has previously not been performed
- During initial selection of RPE
Fit testing should be repeated at appropriate times such as:
- If the RPE wearer significantly loses or gains weight, has major dental work or sustains a major facial injury
- When a different size or model of RPE is specified
- If specified by the company policy eg repeated with annual health surveillance check
Fit testing is in addition to the requirement to perform a pre-use fit check.
Two main methods of fit testing are available:
Qualitative fit testing
Qualitative fit tests provide a pass or fail result based upon the wearer detecting a test agent.
They provide a subjective measure of the quality of the seal of the facepiece to the wearer’s face.
These tests may be carried out by a suitably trained company Safety Advisor.
Quantitative fit testing
Quantitative fit tests give an objective measure of the quality of the seal between the wearer’s face ans the facepiece.
A fit factor number is produced.
These tests will usually be carried out by a consultant.
For more information or advice, contact you safety advisor.
To help you to decide which type of respirator you will need, please click on the image below to enlarge.
The image demonstrates the different respiratory masks required for different uses and conditions.
We sell all types of respirator masks on our website.
If you get stuck and would like some help, just give us a call on 0330 0885 675 and we’ll be happy to assist.
Alternatively, you can send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to view our full range of Personal Protective Equipment.