The Provision of Breathable Air: Imperative

In our previous blog, we evaluated the importance of condensate management in a compressed air system. Another important subject controlled by legal requirements is the provision of breathable air being used by a person in the execution of a work-related task.

 

 

Legal Requirements

COSHH regulations state that “As an employer, there is a clear responsibility under the requirements of the HSE to provide fit for purpose safety equipment for all employees that may work in an environment or carry out a process which may be hazardous to an employee’s health. Should an employer fail to provide and maintain this equipment, they will be liable for any damages claimed by an affected employee”.

In response to the above regulations, many employers provide respiratory protective equipment (RPE) to control exposure. This, however, is only the first step to compliance; the maintenance and testing of said equipment is vital as per the below standards.

British Standards

BS EN 529 states that in the case of breathing air apparatus ‘the volume flow and quality of the air should be thoroughly tested at intervals as specified by a competent person’. Further to this, a reference is then made to the BS EN 12021 “Respiratory protective devices – compressed air for breathing apparatus” regarding air purity specification. The levels at which an employer’s breathing air is considered acceptable are affirmed as follows:

Substance

BS EN 12021

Contaminants

Should your site’s COSHH risk assessment require tests that are conducted on any specific contaminant levels, these can be conducted on request.

BS EN 12021 requires that “Compressed air for breathing apparatus shall not contain any contaminants at a concentration which can cause toxic or harmful effects. In any event all contaminants shall be kept to as low level as possible and shall be far below the national exposure limit”

Oxygen

21% +/- 1%

Carbon Monoxide

Must be as low as possible but not more than 5 ml/m³

Carbon Dioxide

Not more than 500ml/m³

Oil (droplets/mist)

Not more than 0.5mg/m³

Odour/Taste

Without significant odour/taste

Water (Liquid)

Air up to 40 bar for compressed air breathing apparatus should have a pressure dew point sufficiently low to prevent condensation and freezing. Where the apparatus is used and stored at a known temperature, the pressure dew point should be at least 5°C below the lowest likely temperature. Where the conditions of usage and storage of the compressed air supply is not known, the pressure dew point should not exceed -11°C.

 How can Airmech assist?

We can give you peace of mind. Having performed breathing air testing for several years, we can assure that the RPE used by your staff complies with current regulations, ensuring their safety.

We can visit site, evaluate your equipment and supply a personalised maintenance schedule which suits your requirements, whether it’s a single test or multiple test points. On completion, test certificates are produced for your records so that your paperwork is kept up-to-date.

Airmech also offer a range of filtration and purification equipment designed to meet/exceed the breathing air recommendations listed above. Contact us for more info on 02476 345658 or .