How to Implement an Effective RPE Programme

  • How To Implement An Effective RPE Programme

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Every year approximately 12,000 workers die from lung diseases linked to past exposure at work ¹ and 17,000 new cases of breathing or lung problems are being reported as being caused or made worse by work ². Therefore, it’s essential for employers to understand the effects this type of exposure can cause and take steps to protect their workforce against it.

Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) is widely selected as a protection measure after the hierarchy of controls have been followed and the hazard remains. Unfortunately, up to 50% of respirators fail to offer the assumed protection level, therefore it is essential that an effective Respiratory Management Programme is implemented to help protect people at work.

There are six key elements to implementing an effective Respiratory Management Programme

1. Correct RPE Selection - Employers should ensure their employees are issued with adequate RPE to control the hazards relating to their tasks and unique working environment. We can support you in selecting the right products for your needs. For support in making the right RPE choices for your workplace hazards, download our Selector Tool.
2 RPE Training - Not only should employees be issued with correct RPE but they should be correctly trained in wearing and using it. We can help advise you on the training your employees require, whether that’s tailor-made learning package or one of our standard courses.
3. Face Fit Testing by Competent Fit2Fit Approved Specialists - Wearers of tight-fitting or close-fitting RPE must receive a face fit test for each variety of mask they wear, to ensure it fits correctly and achieves the tight seal required to provide protection. Ideally, this should be carried out at the mask selection stage and repeated every two years or sooner depending on the risks, if the wearers facial features change or if switching to a new mask manufacturer or model. Our team of Fit2Fit technicians can carry out Face Fit Testing throughout the UK and also deliver Fit2Fit approved training courses on qualitative and quantitative face fit testing.
4. RPE Inspections & Maintenance - Poorly maintained respiratory equipment may not offer the assumed level of protection to the wearer, so workers need to be trained how to correctly use and wear it, how to clean and maintain it to industry standards, and when it should be replaced. We can train you to conduct your own monthly COSHH inspections or undertake them for you as part of our managed services package. We carry out required manufacturers servicing to ensure your equipment is maintained correctly to provide adequate protection.
5. Record Keeping - You should ensure valid records are available for inspection if required. Our managed services offer give you peace of mind that your employee training requirements are managed and your equipment inspections are scheduled and compliance records are fully up to date with legislation.
6. Suitable and Sufficient Storage of RPE - When storing your RPE ensure it is kept clean, can be easily accessed and is not exposed to potentially damaging conditions. Store your RPE in a dry place and avoid storing with other items such as consumables or machinery.

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For more information about respiratory hazards and guidance to reduce the risks, along with the respiratory protection solutions we offer download our brochure.

Additional Considerations:
Lung Function Testing
We have partnered with a specialist national occupational health provider to provide a new standalone respiratory assessment to test how well your lungs work. This assessment can help diagnose and monitor certain lung conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) among others. Conducted by a medical specialist, the assessment includes a standard medical questionnaire and checks alongside a full spirometry. Using a device called a spirometer (a small machine attached to a mouthpiece by a cable) the test works by measuring how much air you can inhale and exhale and how quickly you can exhale. 
The respiratory assessment can be conducted either at a local clinic or your site and a fitness certificate advising of the results is issued on completion. Lung function testing of employees is a practical measure that you can implement to support a wider respiratory management programme. For more information or to enquire about this assessment contact us at