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Raising respiratory awareness in workers

09 October 2018

THERE ARE approximately 12,000 deaths each years due to occupational respiratory diseases, and the numbers have not decreased over the last few years.

Delegates to Health and Safety North's Dialogue Theatre were given their chance to ask an expert panel advice on protecting employees at the Using Respiratory Protective Equipment session.

The panel was made up of 3B Training's Mathew Bewley, BSiF's Frank Angear, BOHS' Julian Dowson and 3M's Mike Clayton.

One delegate's concern was that many of her workers have beards, so she is concerned about how effective respirators are with facial hair.

Bowley said, “Asking your lads to come in shaven everyday is not manageable. A shaving station on site is an option, and so is a powered respirator, but the problem is there is nothing in the middle at the moment. You can try to reduce dust at source.

“It is all about education – we have to raise awareness.”

Obviously expecting this question, as it tends to come up a lot, Dowson gave a demonstration using two balloon pumps. One had velcro stuck around the rim, demonstrating how facial hair can get in the way of face masks. There was a huge difference between amount of air in the the two balloons – with the 'clean shaven' pump being extremely full.

Angear also focused on the education requirements and the need to train workers so that they know how to use equipment properly. “People need to understand that you are supplying products to help their health and safety.”

Claydon added, “The message has to be consistent. For the fit test, someone clean shaven will only get the same protection if they are always clean shaven when wearing it.”