How to handle respirators safely - Smoke

How to handle respirators safely

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Proper handling for secure respiratory protection

The goal of any respiratory protection is maximum security with the least amount of discomfort. It all starts with reliable, high-quality equipment. However, proper handling is equally important, along with careful maintenance and cleaning of respiratory equipment, masks and accessories, and regular training.

The respiratory protection experts at Dräger have compiled a useful collection of practical tips for using respirators and helpful background information for you.

12 tips how to use respirators and masks

How can you reduce discomfort to a minimum when using respirators and masks? Does a respirator fit and what does this mean for beards. Check out these practical tips from our experts.

Double check

1. Before getting started:

Only if you can rely completely on your equipment, you can focus on your job. With the functionality test immediately before use you can have total peace of mind: Does the mask fit tightly? Is there enough air in the tank? Are the warning mechanisms working?


2. For a more secure fit.

A full beard is a >No go< for respiratory protection. But even a one-, two- or three-day beard causes problems: the shorter the stubble, the more they push the sealing contour of the mask away from your skin. That's why it's better to shave too often than not often enough.

Checking the fit

3. Checking the fit.

The only way to find out if a mask is suitable for you is to take part in a simulation or training. Be careful when fitting a mask and double-check your size if you have recently gained or lost weight. Before each use, always check again to make sure the mask fits tightly.


4. Allow a buffer.

Generally, one tank of clean air is enough for 30 minutes of use (depending on the tank size and pressure). For industrial uses, the air inside your protective suit must last until the suit is decontaminated and you have taken it off. That alone can take several minutes.

Little time

5. Ready, steady, go.

Firefighters only have a few minutes to put on their respiratory protection gear. That means there's no time to spare. Therefore, regular training is essential: preferably stop the time for donning your equipment under realistic conditions including wearing your full equipment.


6. Never wear your mask if you're feeling under the weather.

Do you have a fever? Headache? Runny nose? If you're feeling under the weather, you've got no business putting on respiratory protection gear - not even for training purposes, because training is also physically demanding.


7. Breathe easier with ventilation.

The more difficult your job, the more physically demanding for you – e.g. resulting in circulation problems. It helps to keep in good physical shape, to train your body and take breaks to recover. Another useful aid is using powered-air purifying respirators.


8. Unfiltered attention.

Any type of breathing filter reaches its saturation point eventually. You can tell if a filter needs to be replaced when in particle filters, breathing resistance increases noticeably. In gas filters, there is a recognisable odour or taste.

Creful handling masks

9. Easy does it.

Respiratory protection masks are built to last, but they are not indestructible. Over time, plastic visors may become scratched to the point that they are no longer usable. That's why it's very important to also handle masks with care.

Attention explosion

10. Careful with the tanks.

A common cause of accidents when using respiratory protection is careless handling of the tanks. Always position the tanks carefully to prevent them from rolling over and breaking a valve. With a filling pressure of 300 bar, a compressed air tank is like a miniature torpedo.


11. Keep things tidy.

Even a tiny object like a stray hair inside the mask can cause lots of irritation. That's why you should always take great care when cleaning and disinfecting respiratory protection masks. A clean mask is a safe mask.

Halthy living

12. Stay in shape and work more safely.

Using respiratory protection gear is hard work. You're in much better shape to handle strains like heavy equipment and breathing resistance if you keep physically fit. That means having a normal BMI, a healthy diet and avoiding smoking and alcohol.

These 3 videos show the right way to put on a respiratory mask

Putting on a Dräger X-plore® 1900 FFP dust mask

To make sure your respiratory protection mask (FFP mask) is in optimal shape to keep you safe in dusty work environments, such as industrial settings, mines and workshops, you must be sure to put it on properly. This video gives you a step-by-step guide.

Putting on a Dräger X-plore® 3300/3500 half-face respirator mask

If your job calls for respiratory protection, the Dräger X-plore half-face mask can be a suitable solution. Find out all you need to know about how to don and doff this mask, how to install filters correctly, how to test for a secure fit, and how to properly clean and maintain the mask.

Putting on a Dräger X-plore® 5500 full-face respirator mask

Especially with full-face masks, it's important to remember that the mask must fit properly in order for it to provide the protection you need. Here we show you how to properly operate the mask, how to use the filters and how to clean and maintain the masks, step by step.

Posters with instructions for donning our respirators and masks

Are you looking for a specific instruction manual? For nearly all Dräger respiratory protection gear, videos and posters showing how to don the equipment are available, either on our YouTube channel or on the product information page of the Dräger website. Get some examples here:

RPE fit testing - testing respiratory protection masks for a proper fit

No two heads are alike. That's why it's important to have expert advice on choosing the right respirator or mask to keep each wearer safe. Just because a mask perfectly fits one wearer, doesn't mean it will be the right choice for another wearer whose face is a different size and shape.

Fit-tests help you assess whether a respiratory protection mask will fit properly and securely under real operating conditions. During a fit-test, a series of movements are simulated, imitating real-life operating conditions. This includes various techniques for checking whether the mask will function without leaking. The test enables you to identify any areas where the mask does not fit the individual face shape of the wearer, so you can prevent health hazards before they occur.

There are two methods for conducting a fit-test: qualitative or quantitative fit-testing.

During a qualitative fit-test, you test the mask for a secure fit by checking whether the wearer is able to smell a test substance while wearing the mask. This process can be used to test single-use particle-filtering masks and reusable half-face masks. Watch our video to see how it works.

A quantitative fit-test provides objective results which can be compared with one another. A particle counter is used to analyse the concentration of hazardous substances outside and inside the mask and determine the "fit factor". Find out more in this video.

In some countries, including the USA, Canada, Australia and the UK, regular fit-testing is required by law. Depending on local regulations in your region, every worker who uses respiratory protection gear must undergo fit-testing at regular intervals of up to two years for all the equipment they use. The purpose of a fit-test, however, is not simply to comply with regulations, but to provide optimal protection for workers.

You've got questions, and our trainers have the answers

Is there a respirator mask for beard?

No there are no masks for beard, because with facial hair the mask can not fit tight enough. In particular, full beards are a definite “no go” for respiratory protection. But even a one-, two- or three-day beard causes problems: the shorter the stubble, the more it pushes the sealing contour of the mask away from your skin and therfore decreases the protection of the mask.

Do I always have to carry my air tanks on my back?

In some cases, you may be working in places where space is limited (for example, when cleaning inside of a tank or moving through a narrow shaft or tunnel). It might seem like a good idea to simply leave your bulky air tank above ground or outside and use an extension line to stay connected with the lung demand valve. However, be aware: if there is a crimp in one of the hoses, it can cause contractions that interrupt the flow of air. The safest option is to connect with the air supply using heavy-duty hose systems that cannot be crimped or crushed.

Can I wear eyeglasses and a respiratory protection mask at the same time?

If you rely on glasses to be able to see, you will need a special pair of mask glasses in the right prescription strength. You should never try to wear your own "normal" glasses under the mask. Even if the frames fit inside, the earpieces of your glasses may prevent the mask from sealing properly. For safety reasons, you should also never wear contact lenses inside a respiratory protection mask. If one of your lenses becomes dislodged, you will be unable to continue working, and the activity you are working on will have to be interrupted.

How can I be sure that a respiratory protection mask is really clean and sterilised?

The key is to follow the manufacturer's instructions. Usually, the user manual specifies an approved cleaning agent. Always observe the correct dose, soak time and temperature when cleaning the mask. If masks remain submerged for too long in an abrasive cleaner, it may cause the rubber valve discs to stick together over time. If the mask is cleaned in water that is too warm, it may promote bacterial growth. This is why correct water temperatures must be observed. Machine cleaning is a very convenient option.

Find out more in the Dräger brochure, "Cleaning and disinfecting respiratory protection masks".

Can I combine respiratory protective gear components made by different manufacturers?

The equipment's safety certification, as well as the manufacturer's liability, only applies if the gear is used in combination with accessories made by the same manufacturer. The manufacturer only tests and guarantees the functionality of its own products.

Expert delivers training course

Do you have another question? We're glad to help!

The Dräger Academy offers you seminars, training sessions and workshops on important work-related topics. Click here to find out more about the fundamental goals and contents of our training programme.

Knowledge to go

Weartime limit
Wearing-time restrictions

Wearing-time restrictions are put in place to prevent wearers from becoming overexerted while using filtering respiratory protection gear.

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Medical suitability test
Medical examination

The suitable respiratory protective equipment depends on the type of hazardous

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Get in touch with Dräger

Draeger Envelop

Draeger Arabia & Co. Ltd

P.O. Box 31787
Al-Khobar 31952 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 

+966 11 5102636

Not all products, features, or services are for sale in all countries. Please contact your local Dräger representative for more information.