The use of Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) in the workplace is subject to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (CoSHH) and PPE at Work Regulations (1992). The use of RPE is essential to reduce the exposure to potentially harmful materials. RPE is normally required when the concentration of a substance in the atmosphere makes the environment uncomfortable or the level exceeds the limits laid down by the HSE (Occupational Exposure Limited (OEL's).
IDENTIFYING THE TYPE OF HAZARD
It is imperative to select the correct respiratory equipment, but first, the potential hazard must be identified.
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EUROPEAN STANDARDS FOR RESPIRATORY PROTECTION
Respirators are tested to the relevant European Standards and CE marked. All carry the CE mark, relevant European Standard and performance category markings.
EN149:2001/EN149:1999: Filtering face piece particulate respirators
EN405: Valved filtering half mask respirators for gases and/ or particulates
EN140: Half mask face pieces
EN136: Full face pieces
EN137: Self-contained open-circuit compressed air breathing apparatus
EN141: Gas and Vapour filters
EN143: Particulate filters
EN146: Powered respirators – hoods and helmets
EN147: Powered – full face masks
EN371: Gas and/or combined filters for use against low boiling organic compounds
EN402: Escape Apparatus, SCBA with full face mask or assembly mouthpiece assembly
EN1146: Compressed air escape apparatus with hood
EN12941: Powered respirators – hoods and helmets
EN12942: Powered respirator full face masks
DISPOSABLE DUST/MIST RESPIRATOR STANDARDS
Maximum usage level
EN149 FFP1 4x OEL EN149 FFP2 10x OEL EN149 FFP3 20x OEL
Choosing the correct Respiratory Protective Equipment by Identifying the Hazard and its Concentration in order to select the correct respiratory protection, it is imperative that the potential hazard must be identified.
Reference to the supplier's materials safety data sheets, Health and Safety Executive publications, such as Guidance Note EH40, will provide information on occupational exposure limits.
Using this information and investigating the workplace we can then:
1) Establish the name and form of the contaminant.
2) Determine potential harmful effects of the contaminant.
3) Identify specific regulations, Approved Codes of Practice or Guidance Notes applicable.
4) Find the Occupational Exposure Limit (OEL) for contaminant (mg per cubic metre and/or ppm). See HSE Guidance Note EH40. http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/eh40.htm
5) Establish airborne concentration of contaminant (mg per cubic metre and/or ppm).
6) Determine the nature and length of the exposure.
7) Ascertain level of protection required, by dividing the time weighted average airborne concentration by the OEL.
8)Select the appropriate respiratory protection by choosing a device which has a protection factor higher than the required level of protection.
The following example demonstrates how the above information can be used to help select respiratory protection.
CoSHH requires that all respirators are:
- examined on a regular basis (monthly) – in the case of air fed RPE, air purity testing is also required.
- maintenance recorded for the above and kept for a minimum of 5 years.
RPE maintenance only needs to be performed if the equipment is used for more than a month before being disposed of.