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.
NUISANCE DUST MASKS VS. DISPOSABLE RESPIRATORS
Disposable Respirators 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 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.
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 Regulations 2002 (COSHH) and the supporting Approved Codes of Practice, fit testing is an industry wide requirement. Respirators with tight fitting facepieces include disposable respirators, half masks and full face masks,
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
If 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.
QUALITATIVE FIT TESTING
Qualitative Fit Testing can be used on what are defined as tight fitting respirators, with the exception of full face masks.
The test employs a hood to create a small test chamber around the users head, and a test solution. This test solution has a bitter taste. As the test uses these two consumable parts and is designed to be carried out by the employer; it is a very cost effective solution for assessing the ability of the selected Respiratory Protective Equipment and the training given to protect the employee.
QUANTITATIVE FIT TESTING
A Quantitative Fit Testing service can be carried out at the employers site. The service can not only check how well protected the employers staff are but also offer training in the correct fitting and care of the respirator being tested.
Quantitative Fit Testing can be used on all tight fitting respirators including full face masks. However generally speaking this method will not be used when disposable dust masks are the RPE being used.
With all Respiratory Protective Equipment, the most common problem is the fit of the mask to the wearers face and the care taken of the mask. Quantitative Fit Testing is a very effective, and importantly, measurable way of ensuring that the user has a mask that will give him/her adequate levels of protection.
At the end of the test, a report is produced for inclusion in the employee’s records. While this report is being printed our Respiratory Technician will give the wearer instructions in the care of his/her respirator.
Quantitative Fit Testing provides the employer with a measurable result for a particular mask on a particular employee and is therefore an extremely important part of an effective Health and Safety programme.
Please contact EHM for further information
Respirators are tested to the relevant European Standards and CE marked. All respirators carry the CE mark plus the European Standard and performance category markings
EN149 Filtering facepiece and particulate respirators
EN405 Valved filtering half mask respirators for gases and/or particulates
EN140 Halfmask facepieces
EN143 Particulate filters
EN146 Powered respirators - hoods and helmets
EN12941 Powered respirators - hoods and helmets
EN14387 Gas and vapour filters