The law requires that personal protective equipment provided for use at work must be made to an appropriate standard and must be CE marked. The key issues are:
Personal protective equipment (PPE) includes:
Your health and safety and that of your workers can depend on it.
When selecting PPE, remember:
Also make sure that PPE:
To use the equipment effectively, workers need suitable information, instruction and training.
Make sure all equipment is checked before use and cleaned, maintained and stored in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
Remember that employers are not permitted to charge their employees for personal protective equipment provided for use only at work.
Suitable RPE can be used to provide protection against two broad types of substance:
Respirators come in various forms including disposable half-mask respirators, full-face mask respirators with filters, or powered respirators.
A well-fitting and well-fitted disposable respirator conforming to BS EN 149:2001 will protect against dusts, fibres etc. A powered helmet to BS EN 12941:1999 with the correct filter may be more appropriate in many work situations if a disposable respirator is unsuitable, eg for people with beards.
RPE with a high level of protection is necessary for very dusty jobs or where there is a high risk of occupational asthma or farmer’s lung, eg cleaning grain stores or poultry houses.
Face-fit testing (as described in HSG53) must be done for all respirators that rely on a good face seal to be effective, i.e. disposable, half- and full-face masks. This ensures the respirator can fit properly, but the fit still needs to be checked before each use. If in doubt, ask advice from a reputable supplier or manufacturer.
This website cannot give accurate guidance to allow you to select protection against gases and vapours. You need to get information about:
This is because, among other reasons, gas and vapour filters rely on adsorbing the contaminant and different adsorbents (and filters) are used for different gases. It is also difficult to know when filters need changing – when the adsorbent is saturated the gas will pass through the filter.
Respirators relying on filtration for their efficiency should never be used to provide protection in oxygen-deficient atmospheres.
See Workplace safety and welfare for advice on work in confined spaces. RPE with an independent air supply, eg breathing apparatus, will be necessary for such work.