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It's finally getting hot!!!

"How is this significant when it comes to wearing masks?" I hear you ask. Well, temperature can have quite an impact on those that are expected to wear RPE as part of their activities.



So, wearing a “mask” can be difficult at the best of times, never mind as the temperature rises; you may therefore wish to give consideration to your mask wearing workforce, not just for their comfort but potentially for their safety, especially if it becomes unbearable to wear a mask!

 

Any non-powered device such as a P3 respirator or disposable FFP3 Mask has a recommended continual wear time of up to one hour; this is because the wearer has to pull air through the filter media as they breath.  How “easily” a person finds it to breathe depends on many factors…


  • Filter type and density (i.e. inhalation resistance, exhalation resistance should also be considered). 

  • The general respiratory health / fitness of the worker including underlying health conditions and maybe even age or smoking history.

  • The physical nature of the works.

  • Frequency & duration of use.

  • Workwear & and other PPE.

  • Humidity and TEMPREATURE 


So what practical steps can you take to ensure that your mask wearing workforce remain as comfortable as possible during hotter spells.? Here's a few thoughts and options…


  • Try to reduce wear times, get creative, without putting people at risk.

  • Try to do  "masky" activities during the cooler parts of the day.

  • Look at alternative PPE / workwear to try and keep workers cooler overall.

  • Stay hydrated, more than usual.

  • More frequent respite breaks and or task / worker rotation.

  • Educate your staff in identifying heat related illness in themselves and others; risk assess more vulnerable workers.

  • Consider asking "fitter / healthier" workers to do mask related works.

  • If working internally, try to reduce the ambient temperature and to increase ventilation; for external works then consider temporary shade if possible.

  • Swap non-valved for valved disposable masks if possible*.

  • Seek products with lower overall breathing resistance*.

  • Consider the use of power assisted RPE, full or half face*.

  • Even consider the use of PAPR, this has no inhalation resistance, and many models promote a cooling effect as air passes over the face.


 

*Where there is a change or RRE, please ensure that it is face fit tested as part of the selection process where applicable; before the device is put into use! 





On this note, face fit testing can be physically demanding and uncomfortably hot, so please select moderate temperature surroundings when undertaking face fit testing.


A range of RPE options can be found in the below link or do feel free to get in touch.

 

We hope you find this information of use and that our communication finds you safe and well. Please do consider that it isn’t easy wearing a mask during hotter spells; speak to your workers to see how they are coping and or if they have any suggestions too.



As ever, please get in touch if we may ever be of assistance; and enjoy the sunshine!


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