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Respiratory protection

There are three main types of respiratory protection:

  • Respiratory protection with filtration and respiratory resistance.
  • Respiratory protection with turbo filter and without respiratory resistance.
  • Respiratory protection with an air supply.

Filter type respiratory protection filter inhaled air through a filter. There are lots of different types.

Respiratory protection with an air supply supplies air from uncontaminated areas or from bottles. This type must be used when:

  • you need protection from heavy pollution,
  • you are using products with hi code numbering (MAL code),
  • you are not familiar with the composition of the pollution, or
  • if there is a risk of oxygen deficiency.

For all types, you have to wear respiratory protection from the time you start work to the time you finish.

Whether you should wear a full mask or a half mask depends on what work you are going to go. Also consider whether you should wear goggles, a helmet, ear defenders and suchlike.

Respiratory protection must sit closely against your face.

The durability and degree of protection offered by respiratory protection is entirely dependent upon you following the usage instructions of the supplier – which must be provided and be written in Danish – to the letter. Here, you can find out about how to use, store, clean, maintain, repair and disinfect your respiratory protection.

Restrictions in working hours

Working with respiratory protection is always stressful. It is particularly stressful to work with respiratory protection with filtration, which places a strain on the respiration. This is why restrictions are set for the amount of time this protection can be used. Comply with these restrictions as your circulation (heart) is under particular stress.

If you use respiratory protection with filtration but without a turbo unit, it must be used for no more than three hours a day. If you have to work for more than three hours, you either have to use respiratory protection with a turbo unit (fan) or respiratory protection with an air supply.

As working with respiratory protection is always stressful, irrespective of type, work periods using respiratory protection must be restricted by taking suitable breaks. Other work must be done during these periods which does not require use of respiratory protection.

You can work for a maximum of six hours a day using respiratory protection with an air supply or turbo units, including suitable breaks. During demolition work involving asbestos, this time is further reduced to a maximum of four hours, including suitable breaks.

Minors under 18 may only work for 3 hours a day using respiratory protection with an air supply, and only when this is a necessary part of their industrial skills training.

Respiratory protection with filtration

You can use respiratory protection with filtration against dust and aerosols.

Advantages:

  • Free mobility.
  • Simple solution for individual tasks and working at alternating places of work.

Issues:

  • Does not protect against all substances.
  • Limited durability.
  • Can only be used for three hours a day if it places a strain on the respiration.

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Respiratory protection with filtration is available as single-use masks or full and half masks with particulate filters which can be replaced. There are different types of filter:

  • Class P1 provides limited protection against dust. Must not be used at limits below 5 mg/m3. Provides no protection against asbestos fibres and quartz dust.
  • Class P2 provides protection against most types of dust which are harmful to health. These filters can provide protection against just solid particles or against both solid particles and liquid aerosols. If the filter is tested to EN149:2001, the filter provides protection against both solid particles and liquid aerosols, such as spray mist. Provides no protection against bacteria and viruses.
  • Class P3 provides protection similar to Class P2, but also protects against radioactive dust, bacteria, viruses and nanoparticles.

Dust filters provide no protection against harmful gases or vapours.

Respiratory protection with filtration

Full or half mask with gas filter which can be replaced. There are various types of filter which are divided up according to their ability to absorb gases, vapours and dust:

  • Filter type A provides protection against mineral turpentine, toluene, xylene and butyl acetate and other vapours from organic solvents with a boiling point of at least 65°C.
  • Filter type AX provides protection against vapours from organic solvents with a boiling point below 65°C. These filters must be discarded on the day on which they are used.
  • Filter type B provides protection against chlorine and prussic acid and similar gases.
  • Filter type E provides protection against sulphur dioxide and similar gases.
  • Filter type K provides protection against ammonia and similar gases.
  • Filter type Hg-P3 provides protection against vapours from mercury and particles.
  • Filter type NO-P3 provides protection against nitrous gases and particles.
  • Filter type SX provides protection against special substances.

The filters are available in various classes:

  • Class 1 are low capacity filters.
  • Class 2 are medium capacity filters.
  • Class 3 are high capacity filters.

You should not use respiratory protection with a gas filter if the air contains gases or vapours other than those for which the filter provides protection. Nor may the content of gases or vapours in the air exceed what the filter is able to cope with.

Some filters provide protection against several types at the same time.

If you want to protect yourself against both particles and gases at the same time, you have to use two filters; a suitable dust filter on the outside and a gas filter on the inside.

When spray painting and similar, it is also a good idea to use a prefilter which can protect the particle filter.

Labelling

Particulate filters (dust filters) are labelled P1, P2, P3 and have a white colour code.

Gas filters are labelled with their type and class and also have a colour code:

  • Brown for A filters
  • Grey for B filters
  • Yellow for E filters
  • Green for K filters

Filters for several different gases and combinations of particles and gases are colour coded for each individual type.

Respiratory protection with an air supply

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Always use respiratory protection with an air supply when:

  1. There may be a shortage of oxygen (oxygen concentration below 17% in the air inhaled).
  2. There are high concentrations of air contamination.
  3. The air contamination is unknown or too great.
  4. There is no suitable filter.
  5. The mask is unable to form a seal.
  6. Work will continue for a total of more than three hours.
  7. The work is arduous and breathing is difficult.
  8. The working environment legislation requires this when working – for example – with asbestos or styrene or other substances with high code numbering (MAL code).

Always make sure that clean air is supplied from an uncontaminated area when using respiratory protection with an air supply.

Turbo respiratory protection

Turbo respiratory protection (with a fan and battery) pulls the air through a filter (respiratory protection with filtration), which is then blown into the mask/hood. This means that there is no respiratory resistance, and so the respiratory protection can be used for up to six hours in a working day.

Turbo filter respiratory protection may only be used wherever general respiratory protection with filtration can be used. It must therefore not be used if the MAL code triggers respiratory protection with a fresh air supply, such as when working with styrene.

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It is easier to breathe with a turbo mask, and you are generally also more mobile than when you use general respiratory protection with an air supply.
Select types with the greatest possible air capacity. This helps to prevent the visor from misting up, and it increases the actual protection offered by the mask/hood as it creates overpressure inside it.

Protection factor

A protection factor describes how well respiratory protection can reduce the concentration of a harmful substance in the air inhaled. The protection factor specified by the manufacturer is set by means of laboratory measurements.

Such good protection cannot be anticipated when the equipment is used in the place of work. The actual protection depends on a number of factors, including the extent to which the mask fits snugly on the face. A lot of dust masks do not fit sufficiently snugly on the face, and so they are not suitable for use for many tasks on building sites. This is true of many single-use masks.
The protection factor may also be reduced if you have a beard or wear glasses. You may need to wear respiratory protection with an air supply with an overpressure hood or turbo unit.

Replacement of the particulate filter (dust filter)

Read the supplier’s usage instructions.

When buying turbo filter respiratory protection, use a test kit to check the filter. The service life of the filter can also be extended by using a prefilter.

In the case of general respiratory protection with filtration (with respiratory resistance), the rule of thumb is that the filter must be replaced when respiratory resistance is noticeably increased.

Gas filter replacement

Read the supplier’s usage instructions.

A gas filter can only absorb a certain amount of air contamination before it is exhausted, and so it has to be replaced in good time.

If you start to smell gas it is time to replace the filter, unless the smell is due to the mask not fitting snugly. This is applicable even if the supplier has stated that the usage time should be longer.

It is important for you to know whether you will be able to smell the gas at all.

A1 filters should only be used as single-use filters for short-term work (1/2 hour) at low concentrations (approx. 3 x limit).
If the service life of a filter is not specified, you should instead use respiratory protection with an air supply.

Signage

Signs must be used to indicate work sites where respiratory protection must be used. These signs can be supplemented with information on what type of respiratory protection should be used.

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Signs are particularly impossible on building sites where several enterprises are working at the same time so that the employees of other enterprises are warned against entering the area where respiratory protection has to be used.