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Respirators and Breathing Apparatus

Breathing Protection

Aerosolised particles, such as dust, especially the finer elements, are one of the most dangerous health risks in the working environment with most being completely invisible to the naked eye with prolonged exposure potentially causing cancers. One of the simplest ways to offer protection is to wear FFP or P grade respirators. FFP stands for Filtering Face Piece and they help provide protection against aqueous oily aerosols, smoke and fine dust particles.

Even if you take note of the guidelines and information provided finding the correct equipment may still not be a simple task. Nobody’s face is of the same construction and the same goes for respirators, it is best to try on various masks to ensure a good tight fit as a respirator that leaks is virtually useless. If you have a thick beard or stubble this may interfere with the masks fitting, so make sure you do everything that is necessary to allow the equipment to offer its maximum available protection. Be sure that you test the effectiveness of the protection before entering any potentially hazardous area, this can be done by double checking the fit between the mask and your face.

Classification of our dust extraction units conforms to the M class specification. The minimum legal requirement is 447M. When using a dust extraction unit your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) should either be P3 or FFP3 standards.

FFP3 and P3 are European set standards for the filtration of particles through face masks and respirators.

Here is a breakdown of the European standards that fit into 2 groups. First is the P class protection:-





P1 protection has an APF (Assigned Protection Factor) of 4 and will help guard you against low level dust particles and oil/water based mists. They are most suitable for procedures such as sanding, drilling and cutting.

Filters at least 80% of airborne particles


P2 masks have an APF rating of 10 will protect you against more moderate levels of dust particles and oil/water based mists. They are best suited for providing protection during applications such as sanding and plastering.

Filters at least 94% of airborne particles


P3 devices have an APF rating of 20 and can deal with higher levels of dust particle and oil/water based mists. They are suitable for processes that include hazardous pharmaceutical powders, certain biological agents and even fibres.

Filters at least 99.95% of airborne particles

 Now we move onto FFP (Filtering Face Piece) protection:





FFP1 provides the most basic of protection against unpleasant odours and are most commonly used in the food industry.

Filters at least 80% of airborne particles


FFP2 are designed to work in environments which contain deleterious and mutagenic particles. This form of protection is often used within the metal and mining industry sectors.

Filters at least 94% of airborne particles


FFP3 protection is the strongest available within the European market and can deal with the most polluted of air including poisonous, oncogenic and even radioactive particles that carry viruses, fungal and bacterial spores. They are found within the chemistry industry.

Filters at least 99% of airborne particles

* - The average human will breathe in between 7 to 8 litres of air per minute.European standard logo

At Hire Station we take safety very seriously. We offer P3 and, soon to be completely, FFP3 conforming protection, the highest available in the European market. If you have any questions regarding your personal protection, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Where can FFP rated breathing protection be used?

It is important to remember that FFP rated equipment (FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3 breathing protection) is only designed to filter out harmful particles of varying magnitudes. They MUST NOT be worn in an environment which has an oxygen-deficient atmosphere or area which contains harmful gases and/or vapours.

OEL – Occupational Exposure Limit (WEL – Workplace Exposure Limit)

An Occupational Exposure Limit is an upper limit of what is deemed an acceptable concentration of hazardous substances within a particular workplace air. The limits are usually set by the national authorities and enforced under particular legislation relating to occupational health and safety. OEL’s are an important tool in both risk assessment procedures and the management of activities that involve the handling of hazardous substances. In the UK the term ‘Workplace Exposure Limit’ is more commonly used both officially and unofficially.

APF - Assigned Protection Factor

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