How can you protect your staff from RPE hazards?
Posted: 5th December 2018
Respiratory Protective Equipment and Face Fit Training
In today’s busy workplace and competitive business environment, companies come under pressure to cut costs and save time. There are good reasons why organisations that need to use respiratory protective equipment (RPE) should follow Health and Safety regulations with care and no corners should be cut here. In particular, when it is necessary to wear RPE due to hazardous airborne substances at work, only proper face-fitted masks guarantee adequate safety for employees. Here, we review how best to protect staff and comply with the law.
Why RPE Face Fitting Is Essential
RPE forms part of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), used to protect individual wearers against the inhalation of toxic vapours, fumes and particles as well as other hazards. In protecting the wearer against these risks by means of a physical barrier, good ergonomic design is essential for safe, healthy working and correct, comfortable usage. In a wide spectrum of industries, workers wear respirators or breathing apparatus to safeguard their health, reduce the risk of work-related disease and maintain productivity.
However, as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) observes in the guidance published on this subject, faces vary considerably in shape. Consequently, no one single type or size of RPE mask will protect every wearer. Significantly, a good fit is essential; employment history has shown that individuals who could have had proper protection have, unfortunately, retired early on costly disability grounds due to ill fitting equipment.
Given that the availability and correct use of RPE is imperative and that respiratory health problems might result either from a lack of training or a failure to supply or wear well-fitting safety equipment, companies clearly need to comply. Successful organisations have found that an initial investment in proper training raises awareness, boosts employee knowledge and improves protection.
Based in southeast England, Kentec Training offers courses on the correct use of face-fitted RPE, worker protection, best practices and regulatory compliance. Extending our experience and expertise throughout Kent and Greater London, we are able to provide a choice of course dates and locations to suit individuals and groups.
Face Fit Training Course.
For safety, everyone involved in the choice, usage, storage and routine maintenance of RPE should receive appropriate training. When putting a protective mask on, users ought to check the seal for correct fit and function. To address all these needs, experts at Kentec Training offer Qualitative Face Fitting and Train the Tester courses.
For supervisory and managerial staff with responsibility for health and safety matters within organisations, Qualitative Face Fit testing courses provide all the essential skills to work with RPE. In particular, the HSE requires employers to carry out documented RPE inspections. Reassuringly, Kentec Face Fit Testing training courses provide the necessary knowledge for nominated staff to become a point of contact and in-house authority.
Other Safety Precautions
In situations where RPE is necessary, workplace H&S supervisors and managers may need to consider eye protection with goggles or safety glasses, especially if there is a splash or vapour risk when working with hazardous substances. Also, impermeable or durable hand gloves may be advisable to protect hands.
Notably, it is crucial to identify hazardous zones if a work site is to meet regulations and legal requirements. Warning signs should display advice about the mandatory use of protective workwear including RPE.
HSE recommendations establish that employers must inform employees about the risks in their workplace. Information should be in writing and freely available for consultation, such as on a notice board. Alternatively, some companies opt to deliver this advice and to discuss the best preventative action during staff training. In short, precautions must be a regular part of workplace safety, to prevent injuries.
Finally, respiratory masks or breathing equipment provide sufficient protection from airborne particles, fine dust or noxious gases. For more significant chemical handling, fumes or biological risks, full-face respirators may be more appropriate. Alternatively, breathing apparatus with independent air supplies (usually compressed air cylinders carried with backpacks) are necessary for firefighting, incidents with heavy smoke and toxic chemical spillages.
For further details or to enquire about face fit testing training courses and available dates, please contact us at Kentec Training here.