05 Jun Powered Air Purifying Respirators
Powered Air Purifying Respirator
As a supplier of Respiratory Protective Equipment and one of the leading testers of RPE we understand the importance of getting the selection process right.
RPE by law must be suitable and adequate:
RPE is considered suitable if it is adequate and is matched to the wearer, the task and the working environment, such that the wearer can work with minimum impediment and without additional risks due to the protective equipment.
RPE is considered adequate if it can provide a level of protection required to reduce the exposure to comply with the law.
The initial cost of purchasing powered air purifying respirator systems is the main reason for putting some people off but the advantages of these systems can easily outweigh the disadvantage of the initial cost.
If you are using disposable masks how much are these costing?
Are you spending £2, £3 or more for each mask? How many of these masks are being used by your employees each day? Then work out how much that is costing per day, week, month or year.
Are your employees clean shaven every day?
By law if you wear a tight-fitting mask you must be clean shaven in the area where the mask seals against the face. Do you have a clean-shaven policy? Is this enforced? If not and you are visited by an inspector, then this could cost you huge sums of money for fee for intervention and fines not to mention the damage you could be causing to your employee’s health.
A lot of male employees simply do not like shaving everyday and in our experience a lot of employees do not want to ask them to either. If they have facial hair they can not put on a tight-fitting mask and work in a hazardous environment a loose fitting powered respirator does not rely on forming a seal to the users face so if they have facial hair and they need to work in a hazardous environment, then powered respirators are the only option available.
Do your employees wear any other head worn PPE?
Other head-worn PPE can potentially interfere with RPE, preventing one or more of the components from working correctly (eg eye protection, ear protection and safety helmets).
Do you give your employees regular breaks while wearing tight-fitting RPE?
Higher work rates may increase breathing and sweating, which can affect the performance of some types of RPE. Higher breathing rates can cause contaminants to leak in, and sweating can cause facepieces to slip and leak.
Light work rate Sedentary work: assembly or sorting of light materials, arm and leg work, drilling. Most RPE would be suitable.
Medium work rate Sustained hand and arm work: sawing, planing or chiselling wood, plastering, filing, work with pneumatic breaker, intermittent handling or carrying moderately heavy material, shovelling, sledgehammer work, concrete block laying, pushing or pulling heavily laden hand-cart. Consider more comfortable RPE such as powered respirators or loose-fitting devices.
Heavy work rate Heavy manual work: shovelling or digging, climbing, ramps or ladders. A powered air purifying respirator or BA are recommended.
Unpowered tight-fitting masks become uncomfortable to wear for long periods and wearers may be tempted to loosen or remove the RPE.
Wear time more than 1 hr
Using powered RPE with tightfitting masks or loose-fitting facepieces will help minimise fatigue and discomfort
In hot and humid conditions, wearing RPE increases heat stress, sweating and discomfort.
Extreme heat Using powered respirators or airline BA would help to minimise these problems. Proprietary cooling devices are available but consume a lot of compressed air. (Source HSG53)
Face fit testing is a legal requirement for all tight fitting RPE and this should be done as part of the selection process to prove that the mask is suitable for the wearer i.e. it fits. Face fit testing should be conducted by a competent person and it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that the tester is competent, and the tests are conducted in accordance with HSE document 282/28.
There is no requirement to face fit test any loose fitting powered respirator therefore saving you money on regular face fit testing however as they are a reusable respirator they are still subject to monthly maintenance checks.
The use of powered respirators has huge advantages for a lot of companies and are vastly under used but we also recognise they are not suitable for everyone.
We supply powered respirators in our online shop.