FACE FITTING & TEST
Is there a significant risk?
It takes just 20 minutes to test, and kit out a worker with a professionally fitted face mask, yet every day, thousands of construction workers are put at risk of contracting lung disease and breathing in deadly silica dust through poorly fitting respiratory equipment. That is according to a recent survey urging employers to get their workforce ‘face-fit’ tested.
Although construction dust poses a significant risk to workers, many construction workers are unaware or ill-informed of its effect on the body. This is also partly because many of the symptoms and health conditions that develop, as a result of past exposure to construction dust, may take several years to develop. As a result, the immediate consequence of potentially harmful workplace exposure levels are often dismissed or underestimated, in comparison to the immediate impact of injuries in the workplace. By the time consideration is taken to past exposure, it is often too late to reverse or halt the effects.
How do I Face-Fit?
People’s faces all differ in shape and size, it is unlikely that one particular type or size of RPE face-piece will fit every individual – face-fit testing checks that the equipment selected is suitable for the wearer. For disposable and half face masks, a qualitative fitting method is used, which you can do yourself to face fit individuals; this method involves the use of a bitter solution sprayed into a test hood. If the individual can taste the solution, it is deemed as a break in the mask’s seal.
What if I don't Face-Fit?
According to the survey the most common illnesses linked to breathing construction dust into the lungs include silicosis, lung cancers, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and occupational asthma. Silicosis is a progressive disease where accumulation of respirable crystalline silica particles in the lungs causes an inflammatory reaction, leading to tissue damage and scarring. This can progress, leading to complications that can result in disability or death. COPD, more commonly associated with smoking, is also a significant cause of occupational deaths. Individuals diagnosed with COPD suffer from an obstruction of the airways, which become inflamed and narrowed. Lung function is impaired and affected workers are often diagnosed with work-related emphysema or chronic bronchitis. It is estimated that in 2015:
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