Respiratory Protection EN Standards
There are a number of standards and designations for RPE, which can be confusing when checking that the selected RPE meets the latest standards and is appropriate for the task in hand.
The main ones are:
BS EN36: covers full face masks (visors are covered under EN166)
BS EN140: covers quarter or half-masks
BS EN149: covers filtering facepieces provided with filters are rated as FFP1, 2 or 3; Masks will be marked with an expiry date and with an R if reusable or NR if not (the latter are ‘single-shift’ masks)
BS EN143: FFP rated filters for full face, half and quarter masks must adhere to this standard. They will be marked with a FFP rating (1, 2 or 3) and also R or NR
BS EN14837: sets out the minimum requirements for gas and combination gas/particulate filters. It classifies filters into various types such as A, B, E, and K as well as categories such as filter capacities, depending on the chemical or solvent being protected against. Combination filters are available where a range of airborne, respirable hazards exist.
EN12941 and EN12492: EN12942 Powered filtering devices with helmets or hoods conform to 12941 and powered devices with just a mask are covered by EN 12942. FFP-rated filters can be used to protect against particles but but where solvents, chemicals, fumes, vapours or low boiling point fluids are involved. Specialist or dedicated filters may be required and this type of RPE may not be suitable. Additionally, if you are using a powered filtering device with a helmet, consider if there is a risk of the system being dislodged from the user whilst in use. If so, there are options allowing the system to be better retained.
It is also important to treat the European standards as a minimum requirement.
Ask for evidence showing RPE has been tested in similar environments – a reputable company will be happy to share this information and will regularly test the RPE it supplies.
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