Is your selection of respiratory equipment leaving your employees exposed?
Recent HSE research has concluded that respiratory protection that relies on ear loops, including those provided with clips or other means of tightening the fit of the mask, do not protect people adequately when a tight fit is relied upon. This is because a seal cannot be achieved where ear loops are relied upon to hold in place. This applies even when the respiratory protection has a CE or UKCA mark.
Above – respiratory protection with ear loops
What do you therefore need to do
- Revisit your hazardous substance risk assessments (COSHH), general task risk assessments and safe systems of work. Where you have identified that tight fitting respiratory protection is required, look and see what has been issued to employees.
- Where respiratory protection is required that relies on a tight fit make sure that employees have been face fit tested for the specific type they are using.
- Face fit tests should then be repeated at frequent intervals or following significant changes to the wearer for example weight gain or loss, or changes to the type or make of respiratory protection.
- Face fit tests should be carried out by a person who is competent to do so. Competence can be demonstrated under the Fit2Fit RPE fit test providers accreditation scheme.
- Ensure that your employees have been trained in how to use their RPE in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, including how to carry out a pre use wearer seal check.
Author: Rachel Herd, Health & Safety Advisor at Howarths