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Is your respirator putting your life at risk?

09 December 2019

Problems with Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) can lead to discomfort, ill-health or even death. Full Support outlines the issues and invites people across the UK to check whether their FFP3 respirators are up to the job, by taking the PortaCount Challenge.

RPE regulations and guidance has changed. With the release of the INDG479, changes in welding fume regulations and a better understanding of the potential risks, disposable filtering facepiece P3 respirators (FFP3) are becoming more prevalent in the workplace. But just because an FFP3 respirator offers more protection in theory, is it actually keeping you safe in practice?

For RPE to be sold in the UK it must have a CE mark and adhere to specific European standards. For FFP3 respirators, these standards should ensure your mask is able to offer a certain level of protection. However, even if an FFP3 respirator has these markings, it does not mean it will keep you safe. 

A recent research report by the HSE (RR1087 - 2016) found that 50% of FFP3 respirators models they examined failed their basic testing process. When you take into account low fit testing pass rates on most FFP3 respirators, particularly with the scientific quantitative fit testing method, it logically follows that the percentage of people wearing RPE that does not protect them is even higher.

Does it matter? 

Many people rely on RPE to protect their respiratory health while working with hazardous materials or substances. Not only is providing the correct RPE often a legal requirement under the Control of Substance Hazardous to Health (COSHH), depending on the hazard it is being used to protect against, problems with RPE can lead to discomfort, long term ill-health or even death. 

To help combat this and raise awareness of the issue, RPE experts at Full Support are inviting people across the UK to see for themselves if their FFP3 respirators are up to the job. Health & safety managers whose workforce uses FFP3 respirators are invited to get in touch for a free fit testing session and consultation to really see if their workforce is protected.

Quantitative fit testing with the PortaCount machine is an objectively scientific method of respirator fit testing that assesses not just if a mask fits, but how well it seals against an individual’s face. The PortaCount machine, by TSI, measures the number of particles that leak into the facepiece and compares it with the number in the ambient atmosphere. This provides a real-time, quantifiable value not just to see if your respirator fits, but how well it fits.

Fast, reliable and complete with on-screen instructions for tester and wearer, a quantitative fit test with the PortaCount machine does not rely upon the user’s sense of taste, removing any subjectivity from the face fit testing process. 

Get in touch to find out more, or book your free PortaCount Challenge fit test at: www.fullsupportgroup.com/challenge or 01933 672180.