Serious Faults Found with Disposable Respirators

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09 Jan 2017

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The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published a new research report on the performance of ten disposable respirators, which found that only five passed all of the tests, with some reportedly having “serious” faults.

Filtering Face Pieces (FFPs) are used as disposable Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) for protection against dust, particles and aerosols. They are often referred to as “disposable dust masks”, are widely used, and generally require no cleaning or maintenance. They are available in three classes, namely ‘FFP1’, ‘FFP2’ and ‘FFP3’, with the higher numbers corresponding to better filtering efficiency. As with all types of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) sold in the UK, they must comply with the PPE Directive, and it is the responsibility of the manufacturer or person placing the RPE on the European single market to ensure compliance. For FFPs, this is invariably achieved by compliance with the relevant harmonised standard. The HSE’s new research report describes market surveillance testing of samples of ten FFP3 respirator models from ten different manufacturers that are available on the UK market. The aim was to determine whether each sample meets a range of Health and Safety performance requirements required by the standard. Worryingly, only 5 of the 10 models passed all tests with no faults or failures. Two models had an isolated fault on a single sample, one of which was described as “very serious”, rendering the respirator ineffective. Three models had multiple faults, two of them “serious”. The researchers found that the information provided with the masks by the manufacturers was generally acceptable, although 4 out of the 10 manufacturers included no or limited information on pre-use checks.

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