Protecting your lungs is essential and the correct level of protection required should be identified. Testing how effectively a seal has been created on the face of the wearer is also important.
There are a number of factors to consider when choosing Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) –
What is the contaminant?
You should select the correct filter for the application and contaminant (you may have to refer to the supplier of the material being used for this information). The class of filter being used in a respiratory protection product can be identified by a code.
Gas and Vapour (EN 14387 and EN 405) EN141
A – Organic vapours with boiling point greater than 65°C and good warning properties
B – Inorganic gases and vapours, e.g. Chlorine (not Carbon Monoxide)
E – Acid gases and vapours, e.g. Sulphur Dioxide, Hydrogen Chloride
K – Ammonia and organic ammonia derivatives
AX – Certain organic compounds with boiling points less than 65°C & good warning properties
What is the most suitable respirator?
Disposable – face mask for dust/mists/fumes and nuisance level gas/vapour
Half face – respirator with replaceable filters
Full face – respirator with replaceable filters and protection for the face / eyes
Powered – clean air to the headpiece by drawing air through a filter
What is the hazard level?
Do you need protection for eyes, hands, ears etc? See our protective equipment buying guides below:
In summary, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should really only be used as a last resort. Wherever possible, it is important to control the hazards at source. Where this is not possible, select the correct level of protection. Here it’s important to bear in mind the hazard, the length of exposure and the working environment. Many of these have criteria laid down by the HSE. Please note, our guides are only an aid to selection; for full guidance on approved products we would advise that you consult the appropriate code of practice issued by the HSE.
Our ‘Top Tips’ on Workshop Safety Guidelines For Safer Woodworking is a great resource if you are looking for maintaining workshop safety and ensuring everyone taking part in their next project feels confident and safe. What’s more, our Meet The Maker- Matt Estlea is focused on the very talented Matt, who works part-time at Axminster’s Basingstoke store and is a prolific maker. Read our Knowledge piece to find out more about his career as a furniture maker.