Shield Health & Safety Blog: Respiratory Masks

Rules and regulations surrounding health and safety at work can get a little confusing at times, but they need to be taken seriously. Fortunately, the technical team at Shield have devised a number of informational blogs on how to properly protect yourself whilst painting and decorating.

Firstly, we advise to make sure that the mask is properly fitted. A respirator that depends on face fit is useless if you have a beard or thick beard stubble. You should carry out a pre-use check every time you put on your respirator. Always check that it is fitted according to the manufacturer’s instructions, eg ensure that the straps and strip for moulding the respirator around your nose are correctly adjusted, then hold the mask in place and breathe in or out sharply. You should readjust the respirator if you detect any leakage around your face or your glasses steam up when you breathe out.

Next, we’ve broken down the various markings that can be found on masks and their packaging. These markings tell you exactly how much protection is offered against harmful particles in the surrounding work place.

What is the difference between FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3?

For general purpose decorating we advise an FFP2 standard which offers good dust protection. However, an FFP3 respirator is advisable when exposed to high levels of fine dusts or mould spores.

The protection factor denotes the level of dust that a mask will handle as a multiplication of the W.E.L. (workplace exposure limit as shown in H.S.E. document EH40). FFP1 provides a protection factor of 4, FFP2 by a factor of 10 and FFP3 by a factor of 20.

What is the difference between A1 & A2?

  • These are the classes of organic vapour protection that relate to the A respirator cartridge
  • There are other classes but these relate to the bulk of requirements we get asked for in the decorative trade
  • Our mask comes with A1 protection, which covers the vast majority of decorators needs
  • A2 class masks protect against the same organic vapours but to a higher level of concentration.

What do other markings mean?

  • CE – All of our masks are CE marked to show that the product has been tested by a notified body to a recognised standard. The disposable particulate respirators are also marked with EN 149: 2001 + A1: 2009 to show the recognised standard.
  • NR – when seen on FFP respirators this indicates that the mask is designed for single use only and should be discarded after the first use.
  • R – when seen on FFP respirators this indicates that the mask is designed to be used more than once, however please ensure the mask is still fit for use – this would depend on multiple factors of the surrounding work place.

Now that we’ve established what the markings relate to in terms of protection for respiratory masks we can talk about the protection that the Shield range of masks provides. It’s vital to know that you’re protecting yourself and keeping harmful particles (solid or liquid based) out of your lungs, especially when on average we breathe approx. 20,000 times a day!

What protection our masks offer

Disposable FFP2 Cup Mask

Generally considered an economical bulk buy disposable mask this FFP2 Cup Mask offers protection against toxic dusts, mists and fumes based on water and oil. The mask also comes equipped with an adjustable nose bridge with foam seal. Can be used for general DIY purposes, power sanding and spray painting (low solvent based paints only – always read product literature before use. Solvents will eventually breakthrough the carbon of the filters and when the smell occurs in the mask the filters should be changed).

Disposable FFP2 Flat Dust Mask

This ergonomically shaped dust mask provides an efficient fit as well as good dust protection when taping and attaching dry wall lining. The Valve also helps to reduce heat build-up and perspiration. Can be used when power sanding, drilling and water based spray painting (low solvent paints only – always read product literature before use. Solvents will eventually breakthrough the carbon of the filters and when the smell occurs in the mask the filters should be changed).

FFP2 Odour Mask

By using an additional layer to the normal cupped mask which contains activated charcoal our Odour Mask is able to reduce the inhalation of odours whilst working with odorous materials. You can also use this mask against nuisance odours below workplace exposure limits. The Valve also helps to reduce heat build-up and perspiration. Can be used with non-toxic paints and when power sanding.

FilterSpec FMP2

The unique FilterSpec solves the age old problem suffered by wearers of spectacles or masks. When wearing both, either the specs fit comfortably but your mask doesn’t seal resulting in steamed up specs or your specs don’t fit properly when re-adjusting the mask. Fortunately, this product blends both requirements into one comfortable and stylish option with a fully adjustable specs frame and one piece, anti-mist lens for optimal coverage. Replacement filters available re-use of the mask. Can be used with non-toxic paints, for general DIY purposes, when hand sanding, using a paint roller and spray painting (low solvent based paints only – always read product literature before use. Solvents will eventually breakthrough the carbon of the filters and when the smell occurs in the mask the filters should be changed).

Twin Respirator with a combination A1P3 filter for dusts, odours and organic vapours

The Twin Respirator conforms to EN140 when used with the AP1P3 filters and assures a secure fit with a rigid cradle harness. Replacement EN14387: A1P3 filters are also available. Please note: this respirator should not be used where there is a deficiency of less than 19% oxygen in the atmosphere. It should also not be used when applying epoxy based paint or paints containing isocyanates. We are often asked how long will the cartridges last before needing replacement. This is determined by the amount of particulate (dust) and contaminant in the area in which you are working – this can vary dramatically creating a requirement to change within a couple of hours or a couple of weeks. Obviously, the quicker the cartridge is used up is evidence that you really need this level of protection! Can be used with power tools, non-toxic paints (with or without odours), for general DIY purposes, when power sanding, using a paint roller and spray painting (low solvent based paints only – always read product literature before use. Solvents will eventually breakthrough the carbon of the filters and when the smell occurs in the mask the filters should be changed).All ways remember to put the mask and filters in a sealed bag when not in use as the carbon in the filters will continue to absorb any smells or vapour that are in the atmosphere which will reduce the life of the filter.

If you are unsure of any product suitability for painting and decorating jobs then please call our technical team on 0844 858 4592 or alternatively e-mail: sales@shieldonline.com

@PaintersProtect