The Health & Safety Executive has launched a report highlighting market surveillance testing of samples of 10 Filtering Facepieces (FFPs) – specifically FFP3 respirator models – from 10 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.
Only five 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 very serious, rendering the respirator ineffective. Three models had multiple faults, two of them serious. The information provided with the masks by the manufacturers was generally acceptable, although four out of the 10 manufacturers included no or limited information on pre-use checks.
Alan Gilbert, BSRIA Instrument Solutions general manager, said: “FFP3 face masks are used extensively throughout the UK in applications such as the protection of workers from silicon dust on construction sites to general airborne dusts that generated within the plant and process industries, and with only five out of 10 mask types passing the market surveillance testing conducted by the HSE, this must we very worrying for industry in general.
With up to 10,000 new cases of lung and workplace respiratory diseases reported each year, prevention through the correct selection and testing of respiratory protective equipment (RPE) has never been more important. The research found that while all the masks were CE marked – one had a missing exhalation valve and if worn it would have been found to be far from suitable.
Thankfully problems such as this should have been picked up by an adequately trained operator during their pre-use checks, but faults such as leakage through filtering materials would have only been picked up if the operator was fit tested with the particular mask in questions.
BSRIA Instrument Solutions as a supplier of instruments such as the TSI PortaCount respirator fit tester will be following closely how industry will respond to this piece of research. Likewise any future be policing of the equipment being sold as well as adequate information being provided to the purchaser regarding the need for fit-testing to ensure suitability.”