PPE FAQ: respiratory protection

PPE - November 11, 2012 - 0 comments

Respiratory Protection guidance from the JSP Knowledge Base:

I know what the contaminant is and there is no practical way of reducing the exposure, so all I have to do is buy masks. What’s the secret to selecting the correct mask?

There are several things that should be considered when selecting respiratory protection. The first thing that should be considered is the suitability of a mask to the contaminant and the nature of the contaminant as it is experienced. For example there is no point using a dust mask to protect against acidic vapours.

Secondly, you should also bear in mind whether you want disposable masks or reusable respirators. The advantage of disposable masks is that there are no requirements to keep records under current legislation where as reusable respirators may be more cost effective over time and have the added advantage that the same mask can be multi functional by changing the filter cartridge.

Can I have a copy of the COSHH sheet for the mask that I have?

No, COSHH is the abbreviation for Control of Substances Hazardous to Health. Respiratory protection is designed to protect you, not be hazardous to your health. You should have COSHH sheets for all the substances which may be used in or formed during the manufacturing process, found in the materials used, or during maintenance (i.e. Painting and Cleaning) or they may be natural chemicals, fluids and other materials that you are working with. We can provide you with a data sheet for all the respiratory products that we manufacture, give the Helpline a call.

So what do I have to do, comply with COSHH?

We cannot answer this question completely since the COSHH handbook (available at all good book shops) is quite a large volume and hence it is not possible to put all the information in to this guide.

However we can outline some of the salient points for you. As an employer it is your duty to ensure that you have a comprehensive risk assessment done with a written report. It may be that you do not have the ability to perform this assessment yourself, since it requires such action as measuring the contaminant in the air.

There are commercial Health and Safety Consultants who can perform this assessment for you. Once the risks are known the regulations require the introduction of control measures and the maintenance of these measures. You are also required to monitor the effectiveness of these measures on the health of your staff.

JSP Respiratory Protection products

I have been told that I need to be fit tested, what is fit testing?

It is a way to check that the mask being worn is actually offering the protection that it is supposed to. While masks are type tested on real people, everyone has a different shape face, and what fits one person may not get a good seal on another. The Health and Safety Executive require that if you are working with lead or asbestos that you have quantitative fit testing carried out and they recommend that at least Qualitative fit testing is carried out for all types of tight fitting respirators.

I’ve had an assessment done and it shows that one of the chemicals I use is six times over the WEL. What does WEL stand for and what should I do?

WEL stands for Workplace Exposure Limit. The WEL is the ‘Safety’ line decided upon by the Health and Safety Executive.

If the levels of concentration are below the WEL then no action is needed. However since one of your chemicals is over the WEL then it is time for action.

For example: Xylene is present at a concentration of 300ppm. The WEL is 50ppm, the necessary protection factor is therefore:-

300ppm = 6


Therefore a half mask with an A1 gas filter, which has an Assigned Protection Factor (APF) of 10 is appropriate.

What does the Assigned Protection Factor of a disposable dust mask mean?

It is the level of protection that a wearer can reasonably expect. The factor can be used to multiple the WEL to determine the maximum concentration that can be worked in when wearing a particular type of mask.

How do I know when a dust is fine or very fine?

There are set definitions of the different sizes of particles. Particles that are bigger than 5 micrometers (millionths of a metre) are classed as dusts, between 2 and 5 micrometers are classed as fine particles and anything less than 2 micrometers are very fine.

I have seen different filters with different colour bands on them what does that mean?

Each colour signifies a different gas/vapour or duct that the filter is designed to filter out. The table below shows the different colours and what they mean:-

What mask and filter for working with MDF?

This depends on how the MDF is being worked. Any use of machine tools will create vapours as the glues and fungicides are heated, in this case a twin half mask fitted with combination AB1P2 filters should be used. If hand tools are being used then a disposable dust mask to FFP2 requirement should be used.

What do you mean by ‘Combination Filters’?

A combination mask has filters fitted that have more than one of the colour bandings shown above. An MDF mask has filters that are AB1P2 combinations.

These filters work against organic (A) and inorganic (B) vapours as well as filtering dust (P). If you only need an organic vapour filter it is much better to use an A filter rather than a combination filter as

you will get a better performance from it.

JSP Respiratory Protection products

How long will the disposable mask last?

Disposable dust masks are designed for single use only, after each wearing they should be discarded. A single use should not exceed eight hours. However the mask may not last this long in heavy concentrations of hazard, when the mask becomes clogged the hazard will start to be drawn in around the edge of the mask, the easiest way in, so it is very important that they are not used for too long. Used masks should be disposed of safely as they will have the properties of the hazard that have been used to protect against.

What mask and filter for working with Asbestos?

The correct grade of filter for Asbestos is P3, for people working with Asbestos we would always recommend the Olympus® Full Face Respirator fitted with a P3 Canister Filter. In addition a Quantitative Face Fit Test must be carried out to ensure adequate protection. Asbestos removal will usually need to be carried out by specially trained and licensed organisations.

What type of filter can a pre filter be fitted to?

They can only be fitted to gas vapours filters. They must not be fitted to dust filters as this make the breathing resistance too high, causing the mask to leak around the edge, thus offering little actual protection.

Why can I not remove the filters from this mask (Filterjet/Maxijet /Tradesman2)?

The mask has been made to EN405 Standard – the mask has a maximum life of 28 days from opening its bag – it has been designed for the whole unit to be correctly disposed of after this period. The filters therefore are not removable.

What mask and filter for painting/ paint spraying?

More information is needed such as what type of paint and what is the paint? The information needed will include:

Name of Hazard (proper chemical name)

Can be found in ‘Risk Assessment’; ‘Product Label’; ‘Safety Data Sheet’.

What form is the Hazard encountered?

Can be found in ‘Risk Assessment’; ‘Product Label’; Safety Data Sheet’.

What is the airborne concentration?

Only airborne contaminates can be inhaled – can be found in ‘Risk Assessment’.

How long will the workers be exposed to the hazard in 24 hours?

Can be found in ‘Risk Assessment’.

What respirator should I use to protect against vehicle exhaust fumes?

You can get filters to take out the soot particles and unburnt hydrocarbons (fuel) but not to take out the carbon monoxide. So the ideal solution would be a supplied air system or self contained breathing apparatus.

We have been advised that we should have a respiratory protection plan in place that meets the EN, what is this?

BS EN 529 is the European Standard titled “Respiratory protective devices – Recommendations for selection, use, car and maintenance – Guidance document”. If you follow the guidelines in this document you are likely to have a Respiratory Protection Plan in place that will satisfy the Factory Inspector. The standard lists all the relevant standards and will help you meet your legal requirements. If you only ever buy one standard, this is the one to buy!

PPE FAQ: Respiratory Protection

Information kindly provided with permission from JSP Knowledge Base – JSP

Respiratory Protection Face Fit Testing

JSP Respiratory Protection products

PPE FAQ: Head Protection

PPE FAQ: Hearing protection

PPE FAQ:  Hi-vis clothing

PPE FAQ: Eye and face protection

HSE Guidance: Respiratory protective equipment (RPE)

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0.


Related posts