Saturday, 7 April 2012

Expensive breathing

Assuming that the various pitfalls on the way to compliance with the RPE regulations are eventually overcome, we finally arrive at a worksite where very worker has a suitable type of RPE in their possession, but where hardly anyone ever wears it. Or if they do, then they do not wear it correctly. Most operatives are not aware that to obtain a tight fit (where the RPE is a half face respirator) the straps must be properly adjusted for length so as to correctly fit the operative’s head, and then correctly adjusted on the head – hence the need for face fit testing of course.
In addition, and perhaps of even more importance is that both site and company buyers will always opt for the cheapest RPE they can find, a policy which usually results in the purchase of disposal face masks. The word ‘disposable’ does not mean what buyers interpret it to mean. It means ‘use only once’ and dispose of it’, not use for a week then perhaps ‘think’ about disposing of the mask.
To wear a new disposable mask every day, should the operative be in a dusty environment, is a potentially expensive process, and would be a delight for any RPE supplier (it’s what’s called a licence to print money). But that is what is required if disposable respirators are supplied to operatives.

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