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Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE)

  Respirators protect employees and are one piece of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) required when working in areas with insufficient oxygen, harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapors and sprays. Hazards such as these, with prolonged exposure, could cause cancer, lung impairment, other diseases and in severe cases even death. It is imperative that employees always wear the correct respirator, fitted to give them the protection they require whilst at work.   Inhalation is the quickest and most serious route of entry for chemicals into the body and as such respirators are required as the first line of defense against these hazards. Each type of Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) has specific limitations which dictate the types of application for which it may be used. RPE is tested to relevant European Standards which determines the product performance. Equally the CoSHH regulations and associated ACOP require employers of wearers of tight fitting face pieces to conduct a fit test to assess the degree of face seal leakage of that respirator to the wearer.   Before a respirator can be used in the workplace, several procedures must be in place. An evaluation of the chemical to determine the proper type of respirator is the first step. Second, each employee must be certified by a medical professional to be healthy enough to wear it. Third, once a year, the employee must be trained and fit-tested with his/her model and size of respirator.   Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) not worn correctly or the wrong type of respirator selected is totally ineffective and may give the user a false sense of protection.   If compiling a Respiratory Programme for your premises it must include the following elements: • A written plan detailing how the programme is managed • A complete assessment and knowledge of respiratory hazards that will be encountered in the workplace • Procedures and equipment to control respiratory hazards, including the use of engineering controls and work practices designed to limit or reduce employee exposures to such hazards • Guidelines for the proper selection of appropriate respiratory protective equipment • An employee training program covering hazard recognition, the dangers associated with respiratory hazards, and proper care and use of respiratory protective equipment • Inspection, maintenance, and repair of respiratory protective equipment • Medical surveillance of employees, where necessary   Some recommendations from BCSS:     For more information on RPE options for your organisation please contact our specialist sales team on sales@bunzl.ie or phone +353 1 6301800