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#1 Posted : 01 February 2001 12:13:00(UTC)
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Posted By Bob Randall
The ACOP to the COSHH Regs requires monthly examination of RPE and in particular that air-fed RPE be tested for "volume flow and quality of the supplied air".

I work mainly with SME's,and have so far found that there is no user-friendly equipment capable of peforming this test.

The recommendation from the RPE manufacturers is that a specialist company be employed to carry out the test. This would be an onerous requirement for many small companies given that the ACOP requires this to be done "at least once every month".

Does anybody have any suggestions for a reasonably sensible and low-cost solution to this problem?

Bob Randall

PS Is this another example of the large company mindset that is predominant in health and safety legislation?

#2 Posted : 02 February 2001 12:02:00(UTC)
Rank: Guest

Posted By Stuart Nagle
Hi, Bob.

Monthly tests on Ba equipment are usually involving the following;

1) full breathing apparatus sets:

(a) carry out examinations on the webbingm buckles, carrier (back pack) valves and 'o' ring, pneumatics (hoses and pipes) whistle warning unit, cylinder (for conditionand test date)examine face mask and lung demand valve

(b) carry out the three pre-use tests including; checking pressure ;- close lung demain valve, open cylinder, check pressure (in relation to cylinder contents - minimum 180 bar for use)
(i) Perform the leak test by leaving for 1 minute and again checking pressure (maximum permissbale loss = 10 bar in 1 minute - any more than this and set should be quarentined for servicing)

(ii) Whistle warning unit test:- release air by opening lung demand valve (slowly) and check pressure gauge. The whistle warningunit should go off at about 50/55 bar depending on the set (usually this is marked on the guage by a red section, when the needle hits this the unit should sound. listen carefully, often under test this may be quite quiet.)

(iii) The low pressure/positive pressure test:- once again, close lung demand valve, pressure up the set, take deep bearth, put on face mask and secure, breath out and take good lungful in. The lung demand valve should open and a supply of air given from the cylinder to the face mask.

Next, take your hand and close the cylinder valve to cut off the air supply, keeping your hand on the valve whilst doing this, bearth the sir down so the mask collapses onto your face (a couple of breaths should be OK) and then reopen the cylinder valve. This establishes that you have a good face seal.

Next, simply place you fingers into the face mask and pull away from the face to test that you have a positive pressure inside the mask.

Finally, to end the tests, take a breath, hold it, close the lung demand valve and remove the facemask. The tests are now complete. wash and clean the face mask and set (as required) and place back into storage.

You should have record sheets to provide a written record of these tests, the results, any problems, action taken, etc, etc... which should be maintained each month after testing and held for six years.

In respect of testing of air quality this is required for air supplied by compressors for mobile operations and in circumstance where air-line fed Ba is used (i.e. in paint spray and baking booths etc).

This is required to ensure that oils, water vapour and other contaminents are not breathed by users and are within the permitted tollerances.

Where mobile equipment is used, it must be tested monthly and before each and every use to ensure that it is functioning within the permitted tollerances.

Fixed equipment also requires test each month for the same reasons, and before each use (i.e at the begining of each shift).

In line filtration devices to remove contaminants are usually employed and filters must be checked and replaced as required.

Ther are several systems on the market, both fixed and mobile, that enable filtration to be carried out with relative ease. I suggest you contact 'Protector' who manufacture such systems and can provide further information on their use, costs, testing etc...

Their contact number is: 01695 711727

Please remember that testing of BA and filtration devices should ONLY be done by competent and trained staff.

hope the above helps...

Stuart Nagle
#3 Posted : 02 February 2001 22:25:00(UTC)
Rank: Guest

Posted By Bob Randall

Many thanks for the comprehensive answer in respect of the method of testing ba sets. My question however was really "Is there a low cost way to test the volume flow and air quality of airline-fed full face RPE?".

I know the requirements of the COSHH Regs in respect of this equipment and I am, of course, aware the only competent persons should carry out the test. However competence can be acquired if a user friendly system is available.

My client has, of course, installed appropriate filtration in the system, has ensured that the volume flow demand on the system can be met by installing an additional air receiver and has regular maintenance carried out. In spite of having done all of this they have not satisfied the demands of the legislation.

The real problem for small firms in complying with these sometimes onerous requirements is the cost. We still have not, as a profession, realised the effect of legislation like this on small firms. The consequences of there being no low-cost way to comply are very often that the requirement is ignored.

Bob Randall
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