Regulations and requirements for respiratory protection on a construction site comes under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) rules.

COSHH rules determine that employers should:


  • * Identify the hazard
  • * Assess the concentration of the hazard
  • * Measure the exposure levels, as part of risk assessments.
  • * Provide only CE approved PPE
  • * Establish a documented training program for all employees required to use respiratory PPE to ensure correct uptake, fitting, maintenance (including cleaning and replacement) and storage.

Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) are denoted with Assigned Protection Factors (APF’s) to indicate the amount of protection afforded when the RPE is used properly by fully trained workers.

The APF therefore indicated the level of hazard that should be protected from when using a RPE. For example, APF 10 will reduce the amount of hazardous materials inside the respirator to around 10% of what’s outside the respirator, whereas APF 4 see the amount of hazardous materials inside the respirator decrease by a quarter when compared to outside the respirator. The higher the APF value the more protection the respirator affords the wearer.

It’s essential that the wearer is properly trained in how to use the respirator and to ensure the respirator has been properly maintain so it achieves the stated APF value and wearers with facial hair will often need to use a respirator with a higher level of protection due to the compromised seal around the RPE.

Full Face MaskBefore starting working in an environment that requires respiration protection equipment, such as a full breather or a dust mask, it’s essential that the level of protection required is understood. Workplace Exposure Limits (WEL’s) are set by the Health & Safety Commission (HSC) with different hazards having their own WEL which is defined in the HSC’s EH40 document.

Workplace Exposure Limits determine the amount of contaminants in the air over an 8 hour period as well as during a shorter 15 minute period and it’s the employers responsibility to ensure the employee doesn’t exceed the WEL whilst taking precautions to reduce the particulates at source.

The higher the potential respiratory hazard, the lower the WEL and the higher the APF you’ll need for your respiratory protection equipment.

As a builders merchants in Lancashire, dealing with tradespeople and building companies throughout the UK we supply a wide range of quality respiratory protective equipment from the world’s leading manufacturers of personal protective equipment, ranging from disposable dust masks, to full face masks and dust mask cartridges.

If you need any help in selecting the right respiratory protective equipment please contact one of our PPE experts by calling 01772 786000.