CleanSpace Respirators are a breath of fresh air for protection against silica dust
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland have set out the requirements for respiratory protection when working in environments where silica dust is present.
Since the inspections have commenced, it has become evident that many workers are wearing inadequate respiratory protection, relying on ill-fitting masks to prevent them from breathing in potentially deadly crystalline silica. Workplace Health and Safety Queensland will continue to carry out inspections to ensure that workers are wearing the correct respiratory protection for their task and that it fits correctly.
Respirators are often divided into two categories — ‘non-powered, tight-fitting’ and ‘powered air purifying respirators’ (PAPR).
Non-powered respirators rely on a good seal on the face. The air is essentially dragged through the filter when the wearer breathes in. This means that the wearer should be clean shaven and have no facial hair — including stubble — that can interfere with the fitting surface or push the mask off the face, causing contaminated air to leak in. These types of masks have lower protection factors and are associated with fogging, heat and moisture.
PAPRs on the other hand, have a fan, are battery operated and deliver clean air to you after it has passed through a filter. PAPRs are usually cooler to wear and can be worn with facial hair. Traditional PAPRs have typically had a hose, battery pack and filter attached to a cumbersome belt, making them complex and expensive to operate.
CleanSpace Respirators are a new PAPR that solve all the problems that can lead to low respirator compliance in the workplace.
CleanSpace Respirators are:
- suitable for silica work including hot, high exertion and mobile tasks,
- available with a face mask that is rated high impact for stone work,
- equipped with CleanSpace’s AirSensit technology that delivers cool, fresh, filtered air to the wearer,
- lightweight — weighing less than 500 grams,
- the only PAPR on the market without bulky belts and hoses and
- powered to eliminate fogging and moisture, even in humid conditions.
CleanSpace respirators are light, easy to put on, reliably safe and comfortable. They are operated using a one-button smart system. Trials show that workers are comfortable to wear them for a full shift.
In addition, CleanSpace Ultra, which can be worn with a half-face or full-face mask, is IP66 rated (water tolerant), making it perfectly suitable for stonemasons, who now must only use wet-cutting methods.
CleanSpace Respirators come in four models depending on the requirements of the industry. CleanSpace2 is the standard model, suitable for standard applications such as quarrying, maintenance and welding. CleanSpace Ultra is IP66 rated, making it water tolerant, suitable for wastewater workers and stonemasons using wet-cutting. CleanSpace EX is intrinsically safe, so that it can be worn in potentially explosive environments such as mining. The newly launched CleanSpace HALO is designed specifically for healthcare, pharmaceutical and laboratory tasks.
In their guidelines, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has stated that “Inspectors will take enforcement action where a person conducting a business or undertaking has provided tight-fitting respirators to workers without undertaking fit-testing and/or facial hair is likely to prevent the seal of the respirator to the face”.
“Full-face respirators and PAPRs must be fit-tested using the quantitative method. All fit-testing must be carried out by a competent inhouse person, manufacturer, supplier or consultant.”
Whether you decide if a tight-fitting respirator or a PAPR is right for you and your workplace, all respirators are required to be fit-tested. CleanSpace Technology provides fit-testing to its clients using the quantitative or qualitative methods.
All respirators used for protection against crystalline silica must have a minimum of a P2 filter. CleanSpace Ultra, which is recommended for stonemasons as it is water tolerant, has a P3 filter which far exceeds the minimum requirements.
Additionally, CleanSpace respirators have successfully attained the required Australian AS/NZ 1716:2012 certification as well as CE Mark (Europe) and NIOSH (North America).
Workplace Health and Safety QLD Guidelines on Respiratory Protection
Unless a workplace has undertaken air monitoring to demonstrate there is no residual risk from RCS, (which research shows is unlikely), an RPE program that complies with Australian Standard AS 1715 must be implemented. The program must include:
RPE must be reasonably comfortable for the wearer. Consider providing powered air purifying respirators because of the physical demands of the task and potential for a hot and humid work environment.
Workers must wear the RPE whenever they are conducting dust generating processes.
As of the end of November, 135 workplaces across Queensland have been audited. So far, 50 prohibition notices have been issued for unsafe activities, including uncontrolled dry cutting and other work exposing workers to RCS. More than 500 improvement notices have been issued for issues associated with health monitoring, provision of and fit testing of respiratory protective equipment, inadequate dust control and provision of information and consultation with workers.
When it comes to respiratory protection, CleanSpace respirators tick all the boxes for meeting the new Queensland requirements and providing a comfortable solution that will be worn for a full-shift. CleanSpace Technology can provide everything your company needs for personal respiratory protection for your team, offering consultation and advice, fit-testing, product training and instructions on maintenance and care with excellent customer support and advice.
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