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Please view the following guides on RPE from HSE:
Fit testing of Respiratory Protective Equipment Facepieces
This updated Operational Circular (pages 1-6) gives practical advice on the inspection of the suitability of RPE fit testing methods and the meaning of the results generated. The accompanying information document (page 7 onwards) gives further more detailed information on fit testing.
Respiratory protective equipment at work
Guidance on the selection and use of adequate and suitable respiratory protective equipment (RPE) in the workplace, in order to comply with the law.
It tells you when you can use RPE, using a simple step-by-step approach. It helps you to decide the adequate level of protection for a given hazardous substance and how to select RPE that is suitable for the particular wearer, task and work environment. It also contains advice on how to make sure that the selected RPE keeps working effectively.
The effect of wearer stubble on the protection given by Filtering Facepieces Class 3 (FFP3) and Half Masks
HSE Inspectors routinely come across workers with various degrees of stubble growth using respiratory protective masks, despite guidance to the contrary. This research studied the effect of 0-7 days stubble growth on the protection given by FFP3 filtering facepieces and half masks.
The current guidance advising being clean-shaven in the area of the mask seal is justified.
Correct fitting and fit testing of filtering facepiece respirators
Respirators are available in different designs and sizes. Some are valved and some unvalved – both options provide a high level of protection when worn correctly.
Fit testing is a means of assessing how well a respirator seals to a fact. It has to be an individual test because one model will never fit all and every face is different. Fit tests may fail, and protection will be lost, if the mask isn’t being worn properly. Sometimes a mask simply won’t fit an individual, but often a better fit can be achieved by taking more care when putting it on. Wearers must be clean-shaven to get a good fit with a respirator.