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    Science of Safety Podcast: Episode 84.

    September 03, 2020



    Science of Safety Podcast.

    Episode 84:
    RPE protection factors.

    Science of Safety Podcast.

    Episode 84:
    RPE protection factors.

    Science of Safety Podcast.

    Episode 84:
    RPE protection factors.

    In this episode Mike Clayton, 3M’s Senior Respiratory Protection Research & Application Specialist for the Personal Safety Division in the United Kingdom joins host Mark Reggers to discuss respiratory protection equipment factors.

    Respiratory protective equipment factors are numbers that reflect how much protection a respirator is capable of offering the wearer, for the level of air contaminants in their environment. Knowing the protection factor is essential as it aids in selecting the appropriate level of respiratory protection needed. However, there are numerous protection factors which can cause confusion when choosing a respirator for use in the workplace.




    Guest Bio:

    Mike Clayton (pictured left) is a PPE/RPE subject matter expert at 3M UK supporting customers with the selection and implementation of personal safety solutions across the EMEA region. Mike has over 30 years of experience in health and safety with the focus on respiratory protective equipment (RPE) performance application, selection and use, performance measurement, testing, incident investigations and standards development.

    Mike holds the position of Lead Assessor and Lead Technical Advisor on the UK’s respiratory fit testing competence scheme’s (Fit2Fit). He chairs the British Safety Industry Federation’s (BSIF) Respiratory Protection Group and is a member of the British Standards Respiratory Protection Committee, provides RPE expertise to the development of British, European and International standards.

    Before joining 3M, Mike was the PPE Technical Team Lead at the UK’s Health & Safety Executive’s scientific laboratory and was responsible for a portfolio of research and support activities in support of HSE regulatory duties. Mike was the lead author of the HSE respiratory fit test guidance and has provided training in fit testing to many sectors of industry, including healthcare. Mike previously served as president of the International Society for Respiratory Protection (ISRP) 2014-2016.

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    In this episode, Mark & Mike discuss the following:

    • What is a protection factor when it comes to respirators?
    • How are the protection factors calculated?
    • What is the difference between these similar terms: Assigned Protection Factor (APF), Workplace Protection Factors (WPF), Simulated Workplace Protection Factor (SWPF), Effective Protection Factor (EPF), Program Protection Factor (PPF), Nominal Protection Factor (NPF), Minimum Required Protection Factor (MRPF)? What should a workplace be using?
    • Where do workplaces go to find out what APF they should use for the type of respiratory protective equipment they may be utilising?
    • What do the different standards bodies and/or regulators base their determination of the various APF’s on?
    • Why do different countries across the globe have different APF’s?
    • What is the concern if APF’s are set to low & what is the risk if they are set to high?
    • Are there any provisos in expecting to achieve an APF in the workplace?
    • How is the APF used when selecting a respirator for use in the workplace?
    • If a worker is clean-shaven, trained, fit tested and correctly fitted with a half-face mask which has an APF of 10 in ANZ, do they always only get 10x reduction in exposure?
    • What is the difference between a protection factor and a fit factor?
    • What takeaway points would you want to leave with our listeners?
    • Where can the listeners go to get further information on respiratory protection equipment factors?

    Respiratory protection is essential in many workplace applications. When considering protection factors, it is important to understand the hazards, whether it be particulates, gas or vapour and how much of that contaminant is in the environment. The use of appropriate protection factors ensures that workers’ exposure risks are effectively reduced below the occupational exposure standards. When a protection factor has been selected and the proper class of respirator chosen, it is also critical that it is compatible with other PPE that is worn and that workers’ are trained in their correct use, care and maintenance, to ensure that assigned protection factors are maintained. Tune in as we take a closer look at respiratory protection equipment factors to keep our workers’ safe and as healthy as possible.


    Additional Resources:

    Contact a 3M Safety Specialist at scienceofsafetyanz@mmm.com for more information.