RPE in the Work Place

What is R.P.E?

RPE (Respiratory Protective Equipment) is designed to protect the wearer against inhalation of hazardous substances in the air.

Most Respirators are a filtering device.

They use a filter to remove contaminants in the workplace air.

FFPs R.P.E (Disposable)

Full Face Respirators

Types of Half Mask

Loose Fitting

Before wearing any Tight Fitting RPE  for the first time a Face Fit Test MUST be Performed!

FFP (Disposable)

Half Mask

Full Face / BA

Face Fit every 2 years (Asbestos Annually).

Change RPE (make, size, model, type) if your face dimensions change due to: Surgery,  Major Dental work,  Weight gain/loss, Moles or Scaring.

COSHH Regulation Requires Face Fit Testing.
Quantitative or Qualitative Method
HSE INDG 479 & Fit2Fit Companion’s.

Types of Face Fit Testing

Qualitative (Taste Method)


APC = Ambient Particle Counting
CNP = Controlled Negative Pressure

Fitting the Mask Correctly and Pre-Checks

FFPs (Disposable), Half/Full Face Masks

Make sure you are Clean-shaven at the start of your shift and always check the fit before use:



  • Particle filters do not protect against Gas or Vapour
  • P3 99.95%. Last for Manufacturers shelf life date in sealed bags. These need to be changed when you Struggle to breathe, Damaged or over the Manufacturers recommended usage time.
  • Gas/Vapour filters do not protect against Particles. You need to change: Damaged/Manufactures Usage Time/Risk Assessment Exposure.

Warning – DO NOT USE any Filtering Respirator in Oxygen Deficient Atmospheres:

  • Less than 19.5% by volume at sea level.
  • In Poorly Ventilated areas or in Confined Spaces

Preventable Occupational Cancer


13,000 of this is due to Respiratory

  • ASBESTOS is the biggest Killer

  • Nearly 3,000 due to Mesothelioma alone

  • That’s more than fatal road accidents in the UK

These Figures are rising!
It is all our duty and responsibility to take action

Reasons for being clean-shaven

Hazards are smaller than a Human Hair and masks cannot seal against the face.

So… What is allowed and the alternatives?

  • Remember the mask must seal on clean shaven skin
  • Hair cannot interfere with the seal of the mask
  • Moustache
  • Goatee beard
  • Side burns
  • Must be kept trimmed!

Alternatives for Facial Hair

Powered Loose Fitting Head Pieces

So…… Is This A Legal Requirement?


Health and Safety Act 1974

In addition to the COSHH Regulations 2002, RPE may need to be used to satisfy requirements in the following pieces of legislation. You will need to consider whether any of these Regulations apply to you and comply with any specific requirements they contain on RPE:

(COSHH) Control Of Substances Hazardous to Health.
(CLAW) Control of Lead at Work regulations.
(CAR 2012) Control of Asbestos at Work regulation.
(IRR) The Ionising Radiations Regulations.
(CSR) The Confined Spaces Regulation.

Current legislation

These Regulations are supported by:
Approved Codes of Practice (ACOPS)

ACOPs give practical guidance on compliance and have a special status in law. If you are prosecuted for a breach of health and safety law, and it is proved that you did not follow the relevant provisions of the code, you will need to show that you have complied with the law in some other way or a court will find you at fault.

For RPE use that is not covered by any of the above Regulations, employers and employees have duties under the 1992 HSG 53 Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations.

Cleaning & Storage

After Doffing, the RPE should be wiped over with a non-alcoholic Wet Wipe or a wet cloth to remove all Contaminants.

Wipe with a dry cloth to remove any moisture, Dispose or Cap filters off, it is then ready for storage.

All RPE should be stored in
Sealed Bags/Boxes once cleaned
this is to stop any cross contamination.

The Filters should be Disposed or Capped Off
to stop any exposure going back into the mask and contaminating the wearer.

Record Keeping and Respirator Certificates

When Working with Asbestos this must be Documented every time the RPE is used by the wearer.

Working with Asbestos Regulation 13 ACOPs

Maintenance of control measures

1. Every employer who provides any control measure to meet the requirements of these Regulations must ensure that—

2. Where Exhaust Ventilation Equipment or Respiratory Protective Equipment  (Except Disposable Respiratory Protective Equipment) is provided to meet the requirements of these Regulations, the Employer must ensure that thorough Examinations and Tests of that Equipment are carried out at:  Suitable Intervals by a Competent Person.

3. Every employer must keep a Suitable Record of the Examinations and Tests carried out in accordance with paragraph (2) and of repairs carried out as a result of those Examinations and Tests, and that record or a Suitable Summary of it must be kept available for at least 5 years from the date on which it was made.

Useful Information Documents:

  • COSHH 2002: Control of Substances Hazardous to Health.
  • COSH ACOPS Pages 40-41
  • Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (L 143) (Updated version)
  • Regulation 13 ACOPS (Control of Asbestos Regulation 2012)
  • HSE INDG 478 with the Fit2Fit Companions.
  • HSG 53 Health and Safety Guidance 53 Respiratory
  • Protective Equipment at Work.
  • Full Face Respirators; EN 136, EN141, EN143 & EN371
  • EN12941 Head-Tops (Hoods).
  • EN 12942 Masks.
  • EN 529.2005 Respiratory Devices.
  • Half Mask Respirators EN 140
  • Filters. EN 143, EN 141 & EN 371

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