Why Face-Fitting Masks are Essential for Your Construction Business

Face-Fitting Masks

Those in the construction industry are at a higher risk of developing work-related diseases compared with those in other professions, with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) stating it has the highest burden of any other sector. Lung problems are one of the most common health complications that occur later in life, simply due to the nature of the work.

Around 12,000 lung disease-related deaths occur each year in the UK, which are linked to past exposure at work. These figures demonstrate that changes need to be made to ensure the health and safety of workers is protected. A step in the right direction would be for employers to provide all of their workers with the correct equipment. 

Here we discuss why face-fitting protective masks are so important for construction businesses and what can be done in the future to reduce the risk of adverse health conditions in workers.

What are the potential risks workers are exposed to?

The construction workplace is a playground for hazardous airborne particles; breathing in excess dust can lead to a variety of health complications like lung cancer, asthma and chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD). To protect workers from these hazards, respiratory protective equipment (RPE) must be worn at all times to prevent them from being inhaled.

More often than not, lung diseases are caused by prolonged exposure to small dust particles or other harmful airborne irritants. Some health issues may appear immediately, whereas others could arise years after the initial exposure. Different masks are more suited to different jobs, so it is vital that you understand what specific types of PPE equipment you need to provide to your staff.

Why face-fitting is essential?

The only issue with RPE is that, if it is not fitted correctly, the person wearing it won’t be fully protected. Repeated fit testing can help with these issues but is often overlooked. With something as significant as protecting the lungs, ensuring your workers are given the appropriate protective equipment is paramount. Factors like deformities, wrinkles and facial hair can lead to gaps when fitting masks, particularly if the individual is not well-equipped to identify these issues. This is why it’s crucial that an experienced mask fitter checks each mask is fitted correctly before work commences.

What can be done going forward?

During the initial selection stage, you should ensure that the make, model size and type of mask that was worn during the face-fitting test is provided to employees. If workers are required to wear different fitted facepieces, each of these must be fit tested beforehand. The British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) has now launched a scheme that helps businesses decide whether a fit tester is qualified, making it easier than ever to find someone competent for the job. Following this, employees need to be shown how to correctly apply and wear each mask – you should also be making sure these masks are being worn consistently, despite being the responsibility of the worker.

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