Using the correct mask for the job

Ok so the HSE are having a big push on Health, with the last 18 months predominantly looking at dust exposure. I’m not going to bore you with another explanation of what dust is and what it can do to you, instead I have found something on my travels that affects the unsuspecting.

If you’re working in the construction industry you should by now be wearing dust masks when creating dust, those who are really taking care will be having a FACE FIT TEST to ensure that it is the correct mask for you! Only seeing FFP2 or FFP3 masks on site is where my problem lies, as much as I fight for it not to be the sole focus of a decision it is inevitable that cost plays part in everything we do and buy.

I was in a well know DIY store the other day when I noticed at the front of the store the promoted PPE section. I had some timber cutting to do later that day and I thought I would grab myself a mask, as my wife and I got to the shelf there were 3 masks to choose from. Me being me, looked at them and immediately was drawn to the FFP3 without thought! My wife then said why don’t you get this one its only £2 as apposed the £5 one you have in your hand? I stepped and noticed that there were 3 masks on display 1 of each type: FFP1, FFP2, FFP3 and no stand out information for users on what these do or protect you from except from the product packaging of the FFP2 and 3, they were priced respectively at £2, £4.28, and £5.68. Which one would you buy?
FFP1 Dust Masks protect against low levels of dust, as well as solid and liquid aerosols. It protects against materials in concentrations up to 4x occupational exposure limit (OEL) or 4x assigned protection factor (APF). FFP1 Dust Masks are suitable for hand sanding, drilling, and cutting.

FFP2 Dust Masks protect against moderate levels of dust, as well as solid and liquid aerosols. FFP2 Dust Masks have a higher level of protection than FFP1 – FFP2 masks protect against materials in concentrations up to 12x OEL or 4x APF. FFP2 masks are ideal for plastering and sanding.

FFP3 Dust Masks protect against higher levels of dust. They also protect against solid and liquid aerosols. FFP3 masks protect against materials in concentrations up to 50x OEL or 20x APF. FFP3 masks are suitable for handling hazardous powders, such as those found in the pharmaceutical industry.


I know there are some who think that it’s over the top health and safety but here at Lighthouse Safety Training over the last 18 months we have been educating people on the affects and correct use rather than chastising people to wear them with no apparent reason, so I ask that you pass on this information to others who don’t understand or are unsuspecting like your work at home or the odd job we do at the weekend.


July 20, 2016 | Categories: Lighthouse Blog |
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