Respiratory protection is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that is required in workplaces or environments where harmful substances may contaminate the air in the form of dust, gas, liquid or fumes. Protection can be essential to improve safety for workers, and RPE can come in a variety of forms, for example surgical masks, dust masks, disposable masks, FFP2 masks and full face respirators.
RPE can come in two main forms, either a filtering device (respirator) or air-supplied breathing apparatus.
A respiratory protection programme can be needed if the safety of workers is compromised by respiratory hazards. Applications where respiratory protective equipment (RPE) may be used include healthcare, manufacturing, chemical and laboratory work and confined spaces where oxygen levels are low. Fit testing must be carried out prior to the use of RPE to ensure the chosen protective equipment fits and is correct for both the wearer and the environment.