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.
Typical general equipment types include:-
Half mask respirators - EN 149 / EN 1827 / EN 140 / EN 143 / EN 14387
Full face mask respirators - EN 136 / EN 143 / EN141 / EN 14387
Powered respirators - EN 12941 / EN 12942
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