Friday, 28 March 2014
In hazardous situations poorly fitting PPE can be as ineffective as no protection at all - it may even present it's own risks. A correct fit is particularly important when wearing breathing equipment. Respiratory protection comes in many forms for various environments and hazards, but should always provide a good fit; ensure there is good contact between the skin and the seal of the mask. Take some time, outside of the rush of work, to practice putting on, adjusting and checking the fit of RPE before use. RPE fit testing should be carried out by a competent person who is suitably qualified and experienced. If you are an employer buying for your workplace it is worth buying a range of correct specification RPE and allowing staff to choose the one they feel is most comfortable and the most secure fit for them.
It is also important to ensure that your RPE fits/ interacts well with other head worn PPE. A simple dust mask can be worn easily with a helmet, goggles or ear defenders. Larger breathing apparatus is usually designed to allow for good visibility and leaves room for goggles. Nearly all of our respirators have a narrow adjustable head-strap which leaves room for a helmet or ear defenders.
HSE provide a useful RPE guide which can be downloaded here.