Respiratory equipment

A member has recently issued advice to its employees concerning respiratory equipment as follows.

On board there are several kinds of equipment for protection from possible polluted air. To be effective, it is necessary to assess which kind of mask is appropriate and whether the mask fits correctly, Maintenance of the mask is important.

Masks are available in several different forms but the common ones are:

  • Disposable Masks – This filtering mask covers the mouth and nose and removes respirable dust. They offer protection against some vapours and gases. One type, the 3M8210 gives protection against respirable dust so can be used during grinding, cleaning, jobs. For arc welding/gouging the 3M9925 type also gives protection against the harmful welding fumes.
  • Half Masks – Are made of plastic/rubber and are fitted with filter cartridges which can be changed out. These can be used for vapours, gases and dust, but it is very important that the correct filter is used (a dust filter will not filter vapours). Do a fit test of the mask before you start working. A simple test to see whether the fit is tight or not is to close off the air supply (filter cartridge holes), breath in and hold your breath. The respirator should collapse on the face. It should then be possible to check to see if there is a leak.
  • Full Face Mask – Similar to the half mask but also covers the eyes by means of a visor.
  • Powered Respirator – A battery operated fan delivers air through a filter to the face mask, helmet or visor. For all masks, the following applies – when it is getting hard to breathe, when taste or smell is detected, get out of the area where you are working and change the mask or replace the cartridge.