The likelihood is that if you’re working in construction you should definitely be wearing a dust mask. Respirator dust masks these days are highly effective and are essential pieces of kit in hazardous environments. However, simply wearing a dust mask might not be enough. Are you wearing the correct type? Are you aware how to wear it properly?

The respirator dust mask

A respirator dust mask will prevent a worker from inhaling potentially dangerous chemicals and particles. It’s important to know what elements may be present in the working environment; this can dictate what type of respirator dust mask is required. In most cases a respirator dust mask that filters the particles and purifies the air will suffice, whilst in other situations it may be preferable for clean air to be supplied from a separate source.

The particle filter

A dust mask incorporating a particle filter is the most common form of defence used in the construction industry. They are relatively inexpensive and disposable, protecting, as the name suggests, from particles of dust that may exist in the atmosphere by clearing them out before you breathe them in.

It’s important when wearing this type of mask to ensure that it fits correctly and the seals are properly in place.

How to wear tips….

Below are a few tips of how to ensure that your dust mask is properly fitted and ready to work effectively.

Dust mask without a valve –

  • Cover the outside of the respirator with both hands
  • Don’t not push the respirator against your face
  • With your hands in place on surface of respirator, exhale or breathe out sharply
  • If you feel air blowing on your face or eyes, the respirator needs to be adjusted
  • When the respirator is a good fit, you will not feel any air blowing on your face or eyes
  • If you cannot get a good fit, try a different respirator model

Dust mask incorporating a valve –

  • Cover the outside of the respirator with both hands
  • Don’t push the respirator against your face
  • With your hands in place on the surface of the respirator, inhale or breathe in sharply. The respirator should collapse slightly.
  • If air leaks between the face and the face seal of the respirator, the respirator needs to be adjusted
  • If you feel air leaking between the face and face shield, the respirator needs to be adjusted
  • When the respirator is a good fit, you will not feel any air blowing on your face or eyes
  • If you cannot get a good fit, try a different respirator model

It’s good practice to go through these checks every time a dust mask is used. It’s important to discourage sharing of masks and they shouldn’t be used if they get damaged or discoloured.

It’s essential that there should be a good seal formed between the dust mask and the skin with nothing in between. Sometimes even facial hair can prevent a good seal being made and if the wearer is not clean-shaven effectiveness will be compromised.