Posted at Thursday, 29 October, 2020

Fit properly. Breathe correctly. Protect effectively

Paul Skade
By Paul Skade
Category Manager, Industrial MRO and Safety

I’ve been in the Tools and MRO industry since leaving school 45 years ago. I’ve enjoyed a wide and varied career in a variety of Sales and Procurement roles in th...

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The current global pandemic has increased the importance of face masks in all walks of life. It literally is a matter of life or death. But the regular use of respiratory protection equipment (RPE) has been visible for years in hazardous industrial environments, helping to protect both your short and long-term health and well-being.


But RPE is only effective if worn correctly. You wouldn’t believe how many employees are unaware of how to correctly fit PPE, with respiratory equipment falling into this category more than any other. This is particularly concerning when official figures reveal that there are approximately 12,000 deaths annually courtesy of respiratory diseases contracted in the workplace. This is an astonishing figure considering the amount of PPE and RPE available on today’s market.

5 simple steps

The use of respirators should be part of an overall respiratory protection program. This includes proper selection, fit testing, medical evaluation, and training. When operating with any RPE, your first port of call should be to ensure that the manufacturer’s instructions are complied with.


This is often where the first error occurs. It’s certainly something that most of us are guilty of not doing, but in this instance, reading those instructions could be the difference between being protected and being in danger – and to put it bluntly, you can’t forecast long-term damage.

Companies such as Honeywell have been providing high quality respiratory equipment for many years, all of which are compliant with the latest EU regulations. To help you gain maximum protection, Honeywell have devised a simple 5-step plan to ensuring that your single-use face mask is fitted correctly and comfortably.

  • Step 1: Open mask and shape nose-bridge
  • Step 2: Hold elastic headband and place mask under the chin
  • Step 3: Adjust the mask by pulling the sides and mould nose area to the shape of your face by pinching the nose bridge.
  • Step 4: Check for air leakage by placing hands over the mask and inhaling sharply. If any air is entering, tighten nose piece and retry
  • Step 5: Check facial fit by smoothly moving the mask from right to left, up and down

Users must also be clean shaven where the mask meets the face, as hairs may perforate the materials, reducing its overall effectiveness. This may be off-putting to some people, but remember your health is at stake, your beard will grow back.

Please also remember that single-use face masks really are only intended for single use. Once you have completed your task, all face masks should be removed and discarded in the correct manner. Your site may have their own individual disposal regulations, so we advise that you liaise with your manager if you’re unsure.

If you wish to further understand the requirement of fitting and testing PPE, HSE 282/28 provides clear and concise information on how the Health and Safety Executive expect this procedure to be conducted.


Health and safety in the workplace will always remain the number one objective for any employer. But only by testing, checking and following instructions regarding correct PPE and RPE usage can we effectively safeguard ourselves from harm. It’s now down to you, but companies like Honeywell and ERIKS will always be on hand to support you with the right information and sourcing the correct products for the job.

For further information, please don't hesitate to contact one of our MRO & Safety Equipment specialists on 0121 508 6000 who will offer the advice and support you need on all your PPE and RPE requirements.

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