The ability to breathe properly should be a given for workers in all environments. But, in some circumstances,additional support may be required to ensure this.
Respirators have been developed to protect against exposure to potentially harmful substances, such as dust, mists, fumes, gases and vapours. The use of such equipment is governed by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (2002) and the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations (1992).
Employers are legally required to provide respirators in the workplace when the concentration of a substance in the atmosphere makes the environment uncomfortable or the level of a substance exceeds that specified by the Health and Safety Executive workplace exposure limits.
An employer’s failure to provide respiratory protection when and where it’s required can lead to illness and injury, which in turn can lead to litigation and harsh penalties for not adhering to the regulations.
Workplaces differ greatly, hence there is a wide range of respiratory protection available for the wide variety of jobs employees undertake. Choosing the correct workplace respiratory protection is key in order for it to be effective.
Our Guide to Respiratory Protection provides detailed information on all the standards but here we give an outline of factors to consider when choosing respiratory protection.
Assess The Risks
If you have not already done so, you will need to conduct a workplace risk assessment. This will identify any respiratory hazards, how great the hazard is and, therefore, the type of respiratory protection required to protect against it.
The main types of respiratory protection are:
- Unpowered disposable filtering half-mask respirators
- Unpowered half-face respirators
- Unpowered full-face respirators
- Powered half-face respirators
- Powered full-face respiratorsHelmets, hoods and visors
Once you have carried out a risk assessment and chosen the correct type of workplace respiratory protection, then it is important to also provide your workforce with training in the fitting and use of it, as well as information on how to care for it properly.
Using and maintaining workplace respiratory protection
Employees must be medically fit to wear respiratory protection, as it can be uncomfortable to wear for extended periods of time.
They must not remove their respiratory protection until they have moved away from the contaminated air. Respirators must fit well and be checked thoroughly for leaks through face seals or damage on a monthly basis. Monthly testing should be conducted by a person trained in respiratory protection fit testing using specialised equipment.
Respiratory equipment must also be checked by the wearer each time it is used. Employees should also be made aware of the need to dispose of single-use respirators, how to do so correctly, and how to act should they believe that their respirator is no longer working properly (including leaving the work area immediately).
It is important that workplace respiratory protection equipment is maintained properly for it to remain effective. All respiratory protection must be kept clean and in a safe place where there is no risk of contamination, and should always be in good working order. Cleaning should be carried out in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and the expiry dates of all respiratory protection equipment and filters should be regularly checked.
Contego Safety Solutions stocks a wide range of corporate workwear, protective clothing and PPE, including our WEARMASTER® range. We also provide a bespoke uniform design and manufacturing service to ensure that you get precisely what you are looking for in a company uniform.
The friendly and expert team at Contego Safety Solutions is always on hand to give advice and guidance on the right PPE and protective clothing for your needs. Contact us now on 0800 122 3323 or email@example.com to discuss your requirements.