Most RPE respirators are also referred to as breathing masks or face pieces. The role of a respirator is to filter bad air and thus removing any potential contaminants.
RPE Respirators are either non powered or powered. A non powered respirator relies on the wearer to draw in air through the breathing filter. A powered respirator contains a motor, which pushes air through a filter.
Respirators are great at filtering out contaminated air, which includes dust. They are used in a variety of industries for health and safety reasons. Respirator masks are also used to help prevent contamination of airborne pandemics. The recent outbreak of Ebola has seen many people wearing respirator masks, although the virus has not been proven to be airborne.
In regards to health and safety standards of RPE, an EU safety mask has three main specs to abide to, which help identify a product. They can be seen below.
FFP1 - Protects from non toxic dust and also water-bases aerosols
FFP2 -Protects from mild toxic liquid and solid aerosols
FFP3 - Protects from liquid and solid aerosols listed as toxic
Respirator dust masks are often used in the construction industry to help protect the user from harmful dust.
Before purchasing any RPE, it is important you understand your health and safety needs. Ask yourself if you require a FFP1, FFP2 or a FFP3 mask
A carpenter, for example, would wear a respiratory mask when working with wood dust.
Another type of RPE are breathing apparatuses. This special type of RPE requires input from an independent source, such as an air cylinder or compressor. These are used commonly by divers and people in the medical field as well as many other industries.
What does RPE stand for?In the construction industry, RPE stands for Respiratory Protective Equipment. It is not to be mistaken with Rated Perceived Exertion, which refers to sport science.
The law in the EU states that employers must provide RPE to protect employees who are risk of respiratory hazards, such as air contamination and wood dust.
If you are an employee and work in an environment that requires respiratory protective equipment. It is important that you speak to your employer. If you are an employer, it is your duty to protect your staff by law.