PPE FAQ: respiratory protection information

PPE - November 10, 2012 - 0 comments

Respiratory Protection Information courtesy of Protec Direct:

Breathe Safely

Respirators are used to protect the wearer from inhaling harmful dusts, fumes, vapours or gases. It is the responsibility of the employer to provide respirators which are applicable and suitable for the purpose intended.

Protec Direct has a comprehensive range of respiratory products from fold-flat and moulded disposable masks to powered and supplied air respirators.

To select the correct equipment follow the four steps:

Identification of the hazard

  • Dusts: Sanding, cutting , grinding and brushing
  • Mists: Spraying, cutting, cleaning and grinding
  • Fumes: Welding, smelting and pouring metals
  • Vapours: Methylated spirits, petrol and degreasers
  • Gases: Air like at room temperatures and have the ability to travel a long way very quickly
  • Oxygen Deficient Note: Normal respiratory equipment will not protect against this hazard.

Note Dusts, Mists and Fumes are all classified as particulate hazards.

Access and understand the hazard

Ensure that you fully understand the hazard and the correct respiratory equipment is selected also the correct eyewear and skin protection may need to be selected.

Select the correct type of respiratory equipment

  • Disposable masks
  • Half masks
  • Full face masks
  • Powered
  • Airline
  • Escape

Training for user and care of the respirator

Employer must supply suitable equipment for the employee

Employer must supply training including face fit testing COSHH regulations (2002)

Qualitative fit test for disposable masks and half masks

Quatitative fit test for full face masks

Equipment must be maintained and records kept.

Qualitative Fit Test Kits

COSHH regulations require employers to conduct fit tests for all wearers of tight fitting face pieces, such as full or half face masks and disposable masks. If the fit is inadequate it will significantly reduce the protection provided to the wearer

UK Standard Assigned Protection Factor (APF)

Reflects the level of protection that a properly functioning respirator would be expected to provide to a population of properly fitted and trained users.

The Nominal Protection Factor (NPF)

The reciprocal value of inward leakage.

European Standards

EN149:1991 – Filtering face piece

EN149:2001 – Filtering face piece

EN405 – Maintenance free half masks

EN136 – Full face mask

EN137 – Filtering face piece

EN140 – Half mask

EN141 – Gas and vapour filters

EN143 – Particulate filters

EN146 – Filtering face piece

EN149 – Filtering face piece for particulates

EN371 – Gas and combined filters

EN12941 – Power hoods and helmets

EN12942 – Powered full face masks

3M Filter Selection Guide

Filter Guide

For use against Gas & Vapour (EN141 & EN405)

  • A Brown* – for use with Organic vapours with a boiling point greater than 65oc
  • B Grey* – to be used with Inorganic gases & Vapour eg Chlorine (NOT Carbon Monoxide)
  • E Yellow* – to be used with Acid gases & Vapour eg. Sulphur Dioxide and other acidic gases
  • K Green* – for use with Ammonia and organic ammonia derivatives
  • P White* – for protection against Particuate

For use against Particles (EN143 & EN149)

  • P1 White* – for protection against coarse, solid particles (low toxicity)
  • P2 White* – for protection against solid and/or liquid aerosols (low to average toxicity)
  • P3 White* – for protection against solid and/or liquid aerosols (high toxicity)

 For use against Gas & Vapour (EN371)

  •  AX Brown* – Certain organic compounds with boiling points less than 65c

*Filter Type & Colour Code


View the Protec Direct range of Respiratory Protection

Download “Time to clear the air! Protect your lungs when using cut-off saws” from the HSE

Other articles about Protec Direct:

Eye Protection Guidance from Protec Direct

“In Case of Emergency” Tags (ICE)

Protec Direct Winter Catalogue Launch

Personal Protective Equipment Exclusive Offer from Protec Direct

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.