How to Select Respiratory Protective Equipment for your Workplace

Posted by Cathy Houghton at

If you are working in an environment where dust or fumes are released, you will want to ensure your team are fully equipped with the right respiratory protective equipment. As an employer, you are responsible for ensuring that everyone has the equipment they need, and that they are wearing it when needed. When not worn, these situations can be incredibly hazardous and can cause long term damage to your health. Today we’re going to share the key features you should look for when selecting respiratory protective equipment for your workplace. How to Select Respiratory Protective Equipment for your Workplace

Why do you need Respiratory Protective Equipment? 

Respiratory protective equipment, which is abbreviated to RPE, is essential for anyone undertakes activities which release fumes, gas or dust into the surrounding air. This could include handling liquids or powders and cutting concrete or stone. RPE is also essential for anyone working in low oxygen levels, to help protect the user from these hazardous situations. 

What should you look for when selecting Respiratory Protective Equipment? 

Any RPE you select should provide enough protection for the task at hand. There’s no use providing RPE for your team if it only half covers their mouth and still lets dust in. The RPE mask should also be suitable for your workplace or industry. You don’t want something that will obstruct your vision and cause further risks when working. Every workplace has slightly different requirements for RPE meaning no two sets of equipment will be exactly the same. Another consideration is the needs of your team, and any special requirements they may have. For anyone wears glasses, you’ll need to ensure they can use your new RPE without their glasses steaming up and obstructing their vision. 

RPE Mask Options 

There are multiple options for RPE masks nowadays. During the current pandemic, we are all wearing masks more than ever before, and you’ll want to provide these in your workplace in case your staff don’t already wear them. Some thinner masks are ideal for everyday use and will protect your team from germs and the potential spread of COVID-19, but they aren’t suitable for use as RPE. For teams that require further protection from dust or gas, look at half or full RPE mask options. The half-mask options contain a respirator, which helps you to breathe clearly in and out without consuming dust at the same time. 

When choosing an RPE mask, you also have the choice of disposable or reusable masks. Depending on your work situation, you’ll want to decide what is the best option for your needs. Disposable masks are easy to provide at building sites or workplaces where the team are constantly changing. If you are a smaller team in a permanent location, you may want to consider a full RPE mask, as this will be much more environmentally friendly. 

Fit Testing Respiratory Protective Equipment 

Before you or your team use RPE for the first time, it’s crucial that they test its fit. There’s no point providing any form of RPE if it’s not going to fit tightly to your face, as it won’t provide the necessary protection. As we mentioned above, anyone with glasses will need to try the RPE on with their glasses, to ensure they can still work safely and with ease. Fit test records need to be kept on-site for five years, and all fit tests should be carried out by someone who is knowledgeable and experienced in this area. Men will need to be clean-shaven when fitting RPE, to ensure it seals firmly to their skin. 

Our top RPE Recommendations 

Now that you know what to look for from an RPE purchase, we’d love to share with you some of our top recommendationsFor simple everyday mask, opt for a disposable mask with a filter. For something a little sturdiergo for a low profile half mask, which will offer more protection, but still allows for a good field of vision while working. For a comfortable half mask that offers full protection to the wearer, you’ll want to upgrade to a reusable mask that has a soft sealing surface and can be used with a variety of filters and cartridges. If you are just looking for masks to protect your team from the risk of COVID-19, consider a pack of the Portwest CV33 masks, which are a great option for everyday use. 

Choosing RPE that offers good protection for your team while still allowing them to complete their work is essential for any employer. While you are searching for RPE masks, you may also want to consider looking at the great Portwest workwear on offer, including Portwest overalls, which will provide your team with full protection in any hazardous situation.

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