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    "If you've been injured through no fault of your own you could be entitled to compensation. If you're unsure if you could claim, I recommend you call Accident Advice Helpline."

    Esther Rantzen

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    A guide to breathing apparatus on a worksite


    Depending on the type of site you are working on, you may need to wear Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) to protect you from dust, debris, toxic gases or poor ventilation. Harmful fumes and vapours could cause respiratory problems and more serious illnesses and employers should work to minimise these risks, providing breathing apparatus such as respirators.

    Types of breathing apparatus

    There are various different types of RPE – here are some of the more common ones:

    • Dust mask/filtering facepiece – this is a facemask with a filter included in it
    • Air purifying respirator – this has a cartridge or filter that removes contaminants from the air
    • Atmosphere-supplying respirator – this supplies air from a source separate from the natural atmosphere (such as a tank)
    • Escape-only or emergency-only respirator – this is designed to be worn only when evacuating a building or worksite and will provide short-term protection

    Respirators have an ‘assigned protection factor’ which lets you know the level of protection they offer. Most will also have an end-of-service-life indicator which warns the user that the respirator will soon no longer be effective. It is vital that respirators and face masks are checked regularly and replaced if they are worn, broken or approaching their expiry date. After the expiry date, the filters or cartridges inside the respirators will no longer provide the stated protection.

    Using breathing apparatus safely

    The Health and Safety Executive provides information to help employers comply with The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002. These state that:

    • Employers must ensure the worker is medically fit to wear RPE
    • RPE must fit the person and this fit should be checked every time it is worn
    • RPE must be regularly cleaned and checked and should be maintained once every 3 months – this means replacing worn parts, face seals and valves
    • Expiry dates should be checked regularly
    • Training must be provided so that workers know how to check and wear RPE

    By following the above guidance, those using breathing apparatus at work are less likely to be involved in an accident.

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    Accidents involving breathing apparatus

    Used incorrectly, breathing apparatus can lead to serious injury and even death. If equipment at your workplace has been poorly maintained and you have been injured as a result, or if you have not been properly trained in the use of RPE and have suffered, you could claim for compensation. You’ll need to prove that your employer has been negligent, so contact Accident Advice Helpline to see how we can help you.

    Accident Advice Helpline (or AAH) is a trading style of Slater Gordon Solutions Legal Limited. Slater Gordon Solutions Legal Limited is a company registered in England and Wales with registration number 07931918, VAT 142 8192 16, registered office Dempster Building, Atlantic Way, Brunswick Business Park, Liverpool, L3 4UU and is an approved Alternative Business Structure authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

    Disclaimer: This website contains content contributed by third parties, therefore any opinions, comments or other information expressed on this site that do not relate to the business of AAHDL or its associated companies should be understood as neither being held or endorsed by this business.

    No-Win No-Fee: *Subject to insurance costs. Fee payable if case not pursued at client's request.