What Are the Different Types of RPE?

different types of RPE

What Are the Different Types of RPE?

In our previous article, we introduced Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) by describing who should wear it and when. Now it is time to analyse the different types of RPE.

Definition of RPE

RPE is defined as a special type of protective equipment that provides protection against airborne hazardous substances – including gases, vapours, dusts, chemicals, mists, solvents, and sprays – that can cause severe damage to the lungs, nose, and skin. Since RPE is a very intrusive equipment, in case of exposure to such substances, employers first have to guarantee effective local ventilation and rely on RPE only as the last resort. RPE is particularly important when cutting wood and stone, welding steel,  handling hazardous substances, or when working in spaces where there is a low level of oxygen.

Types of RPE

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) divide RPE into two main categories: respirators and breathing apparatus.

Respirators (filtering devices)

Respirators use filters to remove contaminants in the air. They can be powered or non-powered. Powered respirators use a motor that passes air through the filter, while non-powered ones rely on the wearer’s breathing.

Respirators include half masks, full masks, powered hoods, and helmets. Half masks cover the mouth and nose and can be reusable or disposable, while full masks cover the mouth, nose and eyes, and are reusable. Powered hoods/helmets also cover the head, are reusable, and are attached to a motor power pack. For all reusable masks, hoods or helmets, filters must be replaced.

Breathing apparatus (BA)

BA refer to equipment providing a supply of air from an independent source. Usually, they are employed in workplaces where there is a high risk of oxygen depletion.

BA include fresh air hose devices providing constant airflow via mechanical means, like a fan, an air cylinder, an air compressor, or a mobile compressed air unit.

types of RPE
Vienna Full Face Mask
types of RPE
Vancouver Half Mask

RPE designs

When examining the different types of RPE, it is also important to consider the design and style. Both respirators and BA can be tight-fitting or loose-fitting:

– tight-fitting facepieces (commonly known as face masks) have a good seal with the wearer’s face. They can be powered or non-powered. To make sure that there is an air-tight seal, a competent person must conduct an RPE fit-test on the wearer.

– loose-fitting facepieces can only be powered respirators or BA, they rely on enough clean air being provided to the wearer to prevent contaminants leaking in.

Now that you know the different types of RPE, browse our full selection of high-quality Respiratory Protection Equipment!

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