Ear loop respirators/masks do not provide protection as tight fitting RPE! The HSE has released a Safety Notice on the effectiveness of ear loop respirators which explains the following:
There is an increase in the variety of ear loop respirators/masks, which indicate they offer the protection provided by FFP2 (filtering facepiece respirators or disposable half mask respirators). In order to achieve the filtration standards for the wearer, these products rely on having a good seal with the wearer’s face. For the majority of workers who are required to wear tight fitting RPE in the workplace, this seal cannot be achieved with a respirator/mask relying on ear loops to hold it in place.
If the respirator/mask uses ear loops, in most cases, it is highly unlikely to provide the wearer with the right protection. This includes any respirators/masks which use clips, ‘snuggers’ (image above) or other means of tightening ear loops, even if they have CE or UKCA marks.
Note: Fit Testing is required for all types of tight-fitting masks used in the workplace. This includes FFP1, FFP2 & FFP3 disposable, half and full face masks (including SCBA and BA masks). Remember, you will need a separate fit test for each different make, model and size of facepiece worn in the workplace.
Do not confuse FFP2 masks/respirators with face coverings, masks or fluid resistance surgical masks (FRSM) as FRSMs are used for a different purpose and are not required to be tight fitting.
For further advice, or assistance in Fit Testing, contact us on 01525 309807.