Safety Safety Guidance

Safety Guidance – Respiratory Protective Equipment

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Published May 2023. This version replaces ‘Guidance on selecting the correct Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE)’ published in 2013.

Ground investigations can pose risks to health as soil, groundwater and soil gas/vapour can include substances hazardous to health. A desk study can give an indication of potential hazardous substances present, and a risk assessment is required to identify the control measures to prevent and control exposure to workers and the public during an investigation. Such measures include limiting exposure to airborne substances through appropriate dust control, adopting good hygiene procedures and training, as well as use of respiratory protective equipment (RPE).

This guidance covers the selection and care of RPE for intrusive ground investigations. Prior to any investigation, a desk study should be completed to identify potential contaminants associated with historical and current activities on the land. The desk study would form part of the Pre-Construction Information required under Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015. Health hazards associated with these contaminants would be used to inform a risk assessment for the investigation activities. Note: desk study information may be incomplete and should be treated as an indication of what hazardous substances might be present only. The client may need to commission further surveys / investigations or make allowances for others to obtain thorough chemical soil, groundwater and vapour analysis information to allow a suitable and sufficient risk assessment to be produced.

This guide covers respirators used to protect the wearer from hazardous substances and does not cover breathing apparatus (which requires an oxygen supply) used for oxygen depleted environments such as confined spaces.