Breathing safety – the last resort

Like other PPE, Respirator Protective Equipment (RPE) must be considered the very last option for protecting the respiratory health of workers. All risks and measures must be assessed before opting for RPE.

This option should only be considered after all other reasonably practicable measures to prevent or control exposure to damaging environments (unless temporarily whilst measures are put in place). RPE should only be used for short periods of time or infrequent exposure, such as temporary or emergency works.

If your risk assessment shows the need for RPE, it is important to note the reasons behind this decision on the risk assessment in order to consider options in the future.

RPE at work should be:

  1. able to adequately control inhalation exposure to provide the wearer with effective protection
  2. suitable for the intended use
  3. CE-marked or of an approved type/standard approved by the HSE
  4. used by properly trained people who are supervised,  and
  5. properly stored, cleaned and checked regularly to ensure it remains effective

Remember to consult either a safety representative appointed through recognised trade unions or employees, either directly or indirectly via an elected representative when implementing such health and safety measures as RPE.