For complete respiratory protection in an environment where there are hazardous airborne chemicals or particles to contend with, wearing an appropriate face mask and filter system is absolutely essential for any worker. Of course there is a drawback with wearing a regular face mask for hard physical work, and that is that it is really hard work having to breathe through an air filter, making work more tiring, and causing fatigue to set in much more quickly.
By opting for one of the latest PAPR masks (Powered Air Purifying Respirators) over traditional variants, there are a number of outstanding benefits to be had. The first and most immediately obvious one of these is that instead of the worker having to work hard to breathe through a filter, the battery powered air pump attached to the PAPR masks drives air through a comprehensive filter system, and delivers it straight into the face mask. The air is cool in the PAPR mask because of the length of the pipe allowing turbulence to settle away, and depending on the filter used in the system almost all particles can be removed.
The next major benefit for workers using a PAPR mask when working is that because all the heavy components – the motor and filters – are contained within a belt mounted unit, the mask itself is much lighter than a regular model. This makes it much more comfortable to wear for long periods of time, and also reduces the amount of muscle fatigue felt by wearers when they are using the PAPR mask.
There are a variety of different PAPR masks available, and although they all share the same basic features of having the purifier and air pump attached to the belt and the mask as a separate item, they can be used for different purposes, and buyers should consider what their exact needs are before investing in one of these products.
The biggest advantage of a PAPR mask over a hood with an air filter is that it is a great deal more flexible for the wearer, because it is lightweight, and offers excellent visibility. Most of the available models have a large full face visor made of high impact plastic that offers excellent protection against most airborne debris, and prevents it from getting into the eyes of the worker. The full face visor offers excellent visibility and increases the range of awareness that a worker can have, increasing safety. With a conventional soft hood mask, the peripheral vision of the wearer is reduced, making them unsuitable to wear within a dangerous environment.
In order to get the maximum benefit from wearing a PAPR mask, you need to ensure that it is properly fitted, working correctly, and regularly tested and maintained. The air purifying pump should be kept clear of obstructions, and the wearer should check that the mask has a good seal around their face to be sure that none of the gases that they are trying to protect themselves from is able to get in through the sides.
The other vital consideration when choosing or setting up a PAPR mask is to ensure that you have the right kind of filters fitted. If you are planning to work in an environment where the main air pollutants that you have to deal with are dusts, you will need a filter system designed to remove dust and debris from the air stream. If on the other hand you are planning to use paint spraying equipment, you will need a different kind of respirator kit that protects you from the toxic chemicals that are released when painting
If a PAPR mask is worn correctly, it will offer excellent levels of protection from a wide range of airborne contamination and gases. It is important to make sure that batteries are well charged and will last for the duration of the work that is being carried out.