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Choosing suitable respiratory protection

06 April 2021

Reusable respirators need to meet specific safety standards and offer the correct levels of protection and comfort required by you/your employees. Selecting and specifying the appropriate respiratory protective equipment can seem daunting with so many factors to consider.

The following three-step approach can help to simplify the process:

STEP ONE Identify which protection factor best suits your/your employee’s needs.

Typically FFP1 Respirators offer an Assigned Protection Factor (APF) of 4 and are suitable for low-level fine dust/oil or water-based mist. FFP2 Respirators offer APF 10 and are suitable for moderate level fine dust (plastering, cement, and wood dust). FFP3 offer APF 20 and are suitable for high-level fine dust (including hazardous pharmaceutical powders, biological agents and fibres) and speciality respirators offer APF 4 or 10. FFP1 respirators are easily identified by yellow straps, FFP2 by blue straps and FFP3 by red straps.

When correctly used by a wearer who has passed a face fit test, an FFP1 respirator should reduce exposure to airborne particles by a factor of 4, an FFP2 by a factor of 10 and an FFP3 by a factor of 20.

Users of respirators with a tight-fitting facepiece should be fit tested as required by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH). Facial hair of the user should be a consideration for fit testing as it may impact the effectiveness of respirators. Respirators with tight-fitting facepieces include disposable respirators, half masks and full-face masks, including those that form part of a powered or air-fed respirator.

STEP TWO Choose whether to go for a valved or unvalved respirator.

A valved respirator is the most comfortable for the wearer, as it reduces the exhalation effort, it’s cooler to wear and is less likely to mist up protective eyewear. However, the unvalved respirators are a lower unit cost and protect the wearer from contaminating the environment.

STEP THREE Select the fit of the respirator.

Choose from the options of cup-shaped or flat fold respirators. There are benefits to both styles, so the best option for you depends on the application, the comfort for the wearer and your budget.

Engweld supply the UK welding and engineering industries with a wide variety of respiratory protection solutions, both single-use and reusable, from leading brands including 3M and Moldex. Contact your local Engweld sales centre about how they can help you carry out the required face fit tests for your employees and provide the correct respirators for the correct application.

Engweld operates from 9 locations across the north of England, Yorkshire, Humberside, East & West Midlands and Cambridgeshire. Every Engweld distribution centre operates with efficient and effective customer service as a central priority. They provide free delivery for all trade account customers and for retail customers who order over £60 online.

For more information, visit the Engweld website, or contact Engweld today with your requirements, via the contact form on their website.