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Personal Protective Equipment - Respiratory

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Covered specifically by The Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002., The Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999., The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002., The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (as amended)  The Confined Spaces Regulations 1997. Perhaps the best approach to this sector is to read the HSE publication HSG53  RESPIRATORY PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT AT WORK A PRACTICAL GUIDE which defines respiratory PPE [RPE] as equipment designed to protect the wearer against inhalation of hazardous substances in the surrounding air.

RPE is divided into two main types:
Respirator (filtering device) - uses filters to remove contaminants present in the workplace air. They should never be used for protection in situations with reduced oxygen levels
Breathing apparatus (BA) – this needs a supply of breathing quality air from an independent source (e.g. air cylinder or air compressor).

Both types of RPE are available with a range of different facepieces, but there are some important limitations:
Masks – these are tight-fitting facepieces (filtering facepieces, half and full facemasks). They rely on having a good seal with the wearer’s face. They can be part of either both respirators or breathing apparatus.

Hoods, helmets, visors, blouses, suits – these are loose-fitting facepieces which rely on enough clean air being provided to the wearer to prevent contaminant leaking in. They are only used on fan-powered respirators and or compressed air fed equipment.

Further details on different types of RPE are give in HSG53 but consultation with a specialist is advised if any risk assessment highlights a need for  RPE as the law is very clear that RPE used at work must:

  • Be adequate and provide the wearer with effective protection;
  • Be suitable for the intended use;
  • Be “CE” marked;
  • Be selected, used and maintained by properly trained people;
  • Be correctly maintained, examined and tested;
  • Be correctly stored.
In addition, you will need to keep records of selection, maintenance and testing. You should also ensure that the wearers of tight fitting facepieces have undergone facepiece fit testing This is needed to ensure that the selected facepiece can fit the wearer correctly. The supplier of your RPE can suggest the most appropriate method. Detailed information can be found in HSE document on fit testing OC282/28.

Current  European legislation includes
EN 136:1998 RPE - Full face masks
EN 137:2006 RPE SCBA - Full face mask
EN 138:1994 RPE Fresh air hose breathing
EN 140:1998 RPE - Half masks and quarter masks
EN 143:2000 RPE - Particle filters  
EN 145:1997 RPE - EN 149:2001 RPE Filtering half masks. - Lung governed demand SCBA with full face mask or mouthpiece assembly for EN 403:2004 RPE - Filtering devices with hood for escape from fire
EN 404:2005 RPE - Filter self-rescuer from carbon monoxide
EN 405:2001 RPE - Valved filtering half masks to protect against gases or gases and particles
EN 1146:2005 RPE – SCBA - incorporating a hood for escape
EN 1827:1999 RPE - Half masks without inhalation valves and with separable filters
EN 12083:1998 RPE - Filters with breathing hoses, (Non-mask mounted filters)
EN 12941 RPE - PAPR helmet or a hood 
EN 12942 PAPR full face masks, half masks or quarter masks RPE
EN 13794:2002 RPE – SCBA for escape
EN 14387:2004 RPE - Gas filter(s) and combined filter(s)
EN 14435:2004 RPE – SCBA with half mask positive pressure only 
EN 14529:2005 RPE -  SCBA half mask positive pressure lung governed demand valve for escape
EN 14593-1:2005 RPE - Compressed air line breathing apparatus with demand valve
EN 14594:2005 RPE - Continuous flow compressed air line breathing apparatus

Typical general equipment types include:-

Half mask respirators - EN 149 / EN 1827 / EN 140 / EN 143 / EN 14387
respiration ppe Half mask respirators Half mask respirators respiration ppe

Full face mask respirators  - EN 136 / EN 143 / EN141 / EN 14387

Full face mask respirators  - EN 136 / EN 143 / EN141 / EN 14387             Full face mask respirators  - EN 136 / EN 143 / EN141 / EN 14387

Powered respirators - EN 12941 / EN 12942
Powered respirators - EN 12941 / EN 12942 Powered respirators - EN 12941 / EN 12942Powered respirators - EN 12941 / EN 12942 

Fresh air hose (FAH) breathing apparatus EN 138 /. EN 269
Fresh air hose (FAH) breathing apparatus EN 138 /. EN 269 Fresh air hose (FAH) breathing apparatus EN 138 /. EN 269

Constant flow airline breathing apparatus - EN 12419./. EN 139 / EN 1835 / EN 270 / EN 1731 / EN 271
Constant flow airline breathing apparatus

Demand valve breathing apparatus  EN139 / EN 137
Demand valve breathing apparatus  EN139 / EN 137 respiration ppe Demand valve breathing apparatus  EN139 / EN 137

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Author Richard Hill