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Three Things to Help You Select the Correct RPE For the Job

Tuesday 23rd July

Optimas Components Respirator PPE


With the law requiring employers to prevent workers from being exposed to hazardous substances at work, employers are expected to take every measure possible to do so, and only resort to Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) when no other measures are possible. However, despite your best efforts, work activities may result in harmful substances contaminating the air in the form of dust, mist, gas or fume that cannot be adequately controlled. RPE is designed to protect the wearer from these hazards.

Once you have properly evaluated the airborne hazards in your workplace, you can begin to choose dust masks based on what meets the appropriate filtering facepiece (FFP) rating, what’s comfortable and convenient for your workers, and fit. Certainly not all dust masks are created equal or for the same job.

Mask Types

Moldex 2405 Classic FFP Dust Mask Scan Duranet Valved Disposable Dust Mask FFP2  Scan Premier Fold Flat Valved Disposable Dust Mask FFP1
Cupped Mask  Cupped Valved  Fold Flat
Moldex 2475 FFP2D Pocket Fold Flat Dust Mask Valved Moldex 3405 Air Plus FFP Dust Mask
Fold Flat Valved  Reusable

FFP Ratings

Different masks provide different levels of protection, so it’s important to find the right level of protection for your workplace. EN 149 designates three dust mask ratings for disposable masks; FFP1, FFP2, and FFP3. 

1.  FFP1 Dust Masks Optimas Components Shop Now Button 


FFP1 dust masks protect against particles larger than 5 microns i.e. low levels of dust, water based spray, water based paint mist, as well as solid and liquid aerosols. They are suitable for hand sanding, drilling, and cutting.



2.  FFP2 Dust Masks  Optimas Components Shop Now Button

FFP2 dust masks protect against particles between 2 and 5 microns i.e. moderate levels of dust, sanding of softwood, hand sanding MDF, ceramic tile dust, cutting slabs, as well as solid and liquid aerosols. FFP2 dust masks have a higher level of protection than FFP1. These masks are ideal for plastering and sanding.



3.  FFP3 Dust Masks  Optimas Components Shop Now Button

FFP3 dust masks protect against particles less than 5 microns i.e. higher levels of dust, loft insulation, hardwood and MDF cuttings, stone cutting and plastering. They also protect against solid and liquid aerosols. These masks are suitable for handling hazardous powders, such as those found in the pharmaceutical industry.



This is the key standard.  Disposable masks must be marked with:

  • Number and year of standard
  • Manufacturer and model
  • FFP rating
  • D - Resistant to dolomite clogging test indication
  • R - Reusable
  • NR - Not reusable

Comfort & Convenience

Ensuring workers are wearing a comfortable mask, should be a top priority. Make sure the worker chooses a mask that can be worn comfortably for their entire shift. This includes evaluating:


  • Face and head comfort
  • Coolness
  • Breathing ease
  • Skin comfort
  • Lightweight
  • Compatibility with other PPE
For more specifics on comfort, read The Importance of Comfort.


Disposable masks are most effective when there is a good seal between the edges of the respirator and the worker’s face. The instant this seal is broken, protection is compromised as contaminated air can leak in through any gaps. Make sure you are performing a fit check every time you put your mask on.  Remember, people come in different shapes and sizes, so facial differences will mean that one kind of RPE is unlikely to fit all. Read more about The Importance of Fit and how to do a proper fit check.

Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) not worn or selected appropriately is totally ineffective and may give the user a false sense of protection.

A Guide to Respiratory Protective Equipment, Health and Safety Authority

Contact us to further discuss what dust mask might be right for your job so we can help ensure you are following regulations and are doing what’s right for your workers. 



How to Choose the Right Dust Masks - Seton

FAQs about respiratory protective equipment - Health & Safety Executive

The Importance of Fit - 3M

Respiratory Protective Equipment at Work - Health & Safety Executive


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