Respiratory protection (RPE)
Also known as Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE).
RPE can protect the wearers health and even save their life!
Certain gases, vapours and dusts can cause serious damage to the lungs. Therefore, many workers wear respirators or breathing apparatus to protect their health in the workplace. RPE will work to filter the air and remove harmful substances, allowing the worker to breathe clean air.
As an employer, it’s your responsibility to provide the necessary PPE to staff as the last line of defence against risks. However, the provision of RPE may be necessary as part of your control regime.
Type of RPE
Respirators (filtering devices) use filters to remove contaminants from the air being breathed in.
Breathing apparatus needs a supply of quality air from an independent source
when to use RPE
There are two main occasions where RPE would be required;
Activities which may result in harmful substances contaminating the air could include; cutting a material, using a product containing volatile solvents, handling a dusty powder, welding stainless steel etc.
Situations where oxygen levels are or may become low, for example when working in confined spaces.
RPE can protect only the wearer of the item, and will protect them only if it is fitted, used and maintained correctly. If respiratory protection is used incorrectly, or is poorly maintained, it will not protect the worker.
What does the law require
RPE may need to be used to satisfy requirements in the following pieces of legislation.
Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012;7
Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002;8
Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999;9
Confined Spaces Regulations 1997.