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Respiratory Protection – what’s right for you?

Why is respiratory protective equipment important? HSE statistics show that there are an estimated twelve thousand lung disease deaths each year linked to past exposures of chemicals and dust at work, and causes include silica dusts, metalworking fluid, and welding fumes.

How should airborne risks be protected against?

The good news is that these life-threatening risks can be reduced to the point of elimination by the correct use of controls. All five points in the hierarchy of controls must be considered and followed in order of effectiveness, from removing the hazard to providing PPE to protect against it. Multiple control measures may be needed in some cases, for example a finishing process dealing with different sized castings may mean a static LEV system paired with RPE gives the staff members best protection.

If respiratory protective equipment (RPE) is needed, what types are available?

From disposable FFP3 masks to half masks and powered respirators, a company can achieve effective respiratory protection in multiple ways. Not all are equal however, and deciding which is most suitable will depend on the hazard, the task and the person wearing it. Different tasks will mean different protection is needed. A disposable mask may be fine for occasional machine maintenance, but for a full day’s linishing a powered respirator may be more suitable, as HSE guidance is that an unpowered mask requires a break after an hour. If chemicals are used, such as in a spray process, then care needs to be taken to choose the correct filters. And remember – tight fitting negative pressure masks cannot be worn by workers with facial hair, as the face fit test will fail!

Is it difficult to choose?

There are many types of RPE on the market, each giving different protection levels suited for different tasks. It’s the responsibility of the employer to make sure the PPE is fit for purpose, as well as providing instructions on safe use and ensuring it is maintained properly. Collaborating with a reputable supplier of PPE and safety clothing makes the process easier, as the variety of RPE available can be daunting!

This is where MF Safety can help

The correct respiratory protection is needed for the task; whether welding, pouring, grinding or reclaiming sand. It is vital to choose a supplier who can give advice, a good service level, and communicate clearly at every stage of the process. MF Safety & Workwear is a PPE and clothing supplier based centrally in the UK in the Midlands. Family owned and run, they’ve been established in PPE and safety since 1991 and have successfully supplied multiple sectors across the UK over this time. Since the HSE raised awareness about the dangers of silica dust in 2022/23, they have been supplying the foundry industry with specialist PPE, including a new brand of powered air purifying respirator – CleanAIR. They also provide the following:

  • Aluminised clothing.
  • High heat protective gloves.
  • High heat head and face protection.
  • Specialist foundry boots.
  • Molten metal splash clothing.
  • Respiratory protection.
  • Hand cut protection.

MF Safety & Workwear supplies across the UK foundry, castings and forging sectors, providing information and guidance as well as the products to help companies protect staff with a service that can be trusted.

Contact MF Safety & Workwear, Tel: +44 (0)115 925 2261, email: [email protected]