Heath & Safety Issue At Work

41 replies
Found 29th Jul 2010
Hi Everyone, I know this isnt the correct forum for this sort of question but I would think someone knows about this

Ok I work in a shop which uses a panel saw, we cut all sorts of wood, worktops, ply wood, and MDF.

I and about 8 other staff are trained to use it.

We use "Disposable" dust masks when using the machine, however our boss has come up with a crazy idea of making us "Re-Use" the dust masks to save money (they cost £2.67), he has now give us a mask each and each time with use it put in a container with our name on it.

I've been doing this now for about a week and the mask is full of dust and mdf fibres, i think someone else has also been using my mask as it smells of cig smoke too.

Me and a few others don't think this is right and we should be using the masks once and throwing them in the bin, he wont let us order anymore unless they are damaged (Holes in them) or go missing etc.

Can anyone tell me if this sounds legal or should I ring health and safety about this

Thanks

41 Comments

Sounds well dodgy MDF fibres are very harmful, i would ring up HSE fora advise

hse.gov.uk/con…htm



Ring HSE straight away, your boss is risking your health.

2.67 for a disposable dust mask! you can get 50 for a fiver on amazon! sounds like your boss is taking costcutting too far-maybe he should shop around and get a better deal.

MDF can mess you up - there disposable for a reason - HSE would be the safest option

Original Poster

will do guys on the phone to them right now

Banned

It will depend on whether they are single use dust masks? Some disposable items can be re-used a number of times safely. But if you are working with them on a regular basis it might be an idea to suggest a new mask each couple of days or day or week?

Why not drop a quick email or make a quick call to the Factory Inspectorate? hse.gov.uk/con…htm

Original Poster

right just rang H&S and they say i need to find out how many times they can be used

Now I've asked my boss about this issue and he was quite blunt with me, the dust mask have no brand name on them, he orderes them via head office
Edited by: "Cartoonhead" 29th Jul 2010

Original Poster

btw i've got a mask in my hand here in the packet, all it says on the mask packet is "disposable"

Banned

Also have you spoke to your boss about your concerns? As if you haven't and go straight to the HSE and he finds out its going to make things pretty difficult for you in work if it turns out he is using the dusk masks correctly

Banned

Cartoonhead

btw i've got a mask in my hand here in the packet, all it says on the … btw i've got a mask in my hand here in the packet, all it says on the mask packet is "disposable"



It is possible to have disposable masks which are multi use. They are to be stored away from where dust can get on them. And only really need to be replaced when damaged or they have a build up of dust, have breathing difficulties with them and stuff along those lines

Original Poster

Paddy Charlie

Also have you spoke to your boss about your concerns? As if you haven't … Also have you spoke to your boss about your concerns? As if you haven't and go straight to the HSE and he finds out its going to make things pretty difficult for you in work if it turns out he is using the dusk masks correctly



We have all voiced the issue with him, he says he's doing the correct thing, but a few of us have been working their for years now and never had this issue, he states we can only order more masks "IF" they become damaged (elastic snaps) or holes in it, or they become lost.

Isn't there a Hygene issue here too?

Original Poster

Paddy Charlie

It is possible to have disposable masks which are multi use. They are to … It is possible to have disposable masks which are multi use. They are to be stored away from where dust can get on them. And only really need to be replaced when damaged or they have a build up of dust, have breathing difficulties with them and stuff along those lines



Well i'll doubt he's going to tell me who makes them to find out if they are multi use.

Banned

Cartoonhead

We have all voiced the issue with him, he says he's doing the correct … We have all voiced the issue with him, he says he's doing the correct thing, but a few of us have been working their for years now and never had this issue, he states we can only order more masks "IF" they become damaged (elastic snaps) or holes in it, or they become lost.Isn't there a Hygene issue here too?



There are hygene issues but he is providing a personal container to store them and keep them from being contaminated. The issues I used above in #11 are the reasons for replacing the masks. It sounds like your boss may know that they are made for more than single use. So it may be a good idea to come to a compromise and say get a new mask every few days to stop the build up of dust particles? Any may be worth asking if there has been a risk assessment completed for the task and forwarding it on to HSE if you need to take things further.

EDIT: The risk assessment may also mention the type/make of dust mask.

Original Poster

Paddy Charlie

There are hygene issues but he is providing a personal container to store … There are hygene issues but he is providing a personal container to store them and keep them from being contaminated. The issues I used above in #11 are the reasons for replacing the masks. It sounds like your boss may know that they are made for more than single use. So it may be a good idea to come to a compromise and say get a new mask every few days to stop the build up of dust particles? Any may be worth asking if there has been a risk assessment completed for the task and forwarding it on to HSE if you need to take things further.



ok thanks, I'll try and find out who makes them and see if they are multi use.

Could I buy a pack of my own masks and take them in work with me and home again?

Cartoonhead

Could I buy a pack of my own masks and take them in work with me and home … Could I buy a pack of my own masks and take them in work with me and home again?



No you may not.

Banned

Cartoonhead

ok thanks, I'll try and find out who makes them and see if they are multi … ok thanks, I'll try and find out who makes them and see if they are multi use.Could I buy a pack of my own masks and take them in work with me and home again?



Maybe. It will depend on how strict your boss is on H&S. I'd run it past him first as you may not be covered insurance wise if using the wrong equipment (sounds silly I know) as a risk assessment may specify a certain mask make so if anything happened using your mask then the work wouldn't be covered.

Original Poster

whatsThePoint

If it says disposable on the packaging its going to be disposable, don't … If it says disposable on the packaging its going to be disposable, don't accept it as being multi use unless you see something from the manufacture saying it isDoes dust get on the inside when you take it off?If so you need a new one at least everyday



Dust gets on the inside as he makes us put them in a "Lunch Box" type container everytime we use it, mine has had two weeks use and is now full of dust on it everywhere, he did mention abouting hoovering them once they get too bad.

Defo say disposable on packet

H&S say i need to check if they are multi-use and have told me if they arent to ring them back.

Banned

Disposable doesn't mean single use!!!

Banned

Show your boss this hse.gov.uk/pub…pdf

On the last page it states: Disposable respirators should be discarded after each
shift or more frequently if exposure is high.

So looks like you need a new mask each shift

Original Poster

Paddy Charlie

Show your boss this http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/wis14.pdfOn the last page … Show your boss this http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/wis14.pdfOn the last page it states: Disposable respirators should be discarded after eachshift or more frequently if exposure is high.So looks like you need a new mask each shift


Edited by: "Cartoonhead" 29th Jul 2010

Original Poster

where did my post go?

Original Poster

Cheers Paddy, I will print this off and hand it to him tomorrow

Banned

It's hidden in the quote, the second last line lol stupid site is messed up

No probs good luck with it X)

Original Poster

haha so it is, i didn't post it there, some strange goings on here today
Edited by: "Cartoonhead" 29th Jul 2010

Have you tried a google search on disposable dust masks? Try it, try an image search too. What you'll find is that there are only a few manufacturers of masks, and a relatively small number of models available. Without too much effort or time, you should be able to find an exact match for the masks your workplace provides, and having done that, you can find the manufacturer, and either find the info for yourself from their website or email them and ask them directly what the safe use of them is.

Original Poster

Paddy just one more thing before I bring this to a close

It says on that leaflet on the same page as the info i need, that :

"This leaflet contains notes on good practice which are not compulsory but which you may find helpful in considering what you need to do."

Actually, that said, the price alone might be enough - could it be these?

Banned

Cartoonhead

Paddy just one more thing before I bring this to a closeIt says on that … Paddy just one more thing before I bring this to a closeIt says on that leaflet on the same page as the info i need, that :"This leaflet contains notes on good practice which are not compulsory but which you may find helpful in considering what you need to do."



I'm a bit busy in work but had a quick look at COSHH and there doesn't seem to be legislation on it but they are under the impression that it should be thrown away after single use. I'll have a look into it later once I'm home and let you know.

Also does the mask have markings on it like FFF1, FFF2, CE or anything? It might be worth a quick look at google images to see if you can spot the mask as if you knew the manufacturer it'd be easy to get the spec.

Edit or check here dustmasksdirect.co.uk

I have to wear a mask for work every day (Asbestos). A non-disposable orinasal respirator will cost about £25 plus you need filters for it. The 'disposable' masks you wear, do they have a valve (piece of plastic with a rubber insert) on the front, if they don't then they probably aren't suitable for MDF anyway as they won't stop respirable fibres the like of which are created by MDF.
Your respirator needs to be a P2 filtration as a minimum, P3 ideally.
But no mask is worth anything without adequate dust suppression.

Put holes in them then, next.

Pull a sicky with a respiratory system problem (bronchitis, pneumonia) then watch your boss poop himself and give everyone single issue masks again.

Banned

Don't think I can help you without knowing the mask type and make. Best think to do is go to your boss with some of the guidence from HSE and COSHH to try get him to understand it isn't safe. If he refused to change work practices or provide information on the masks used email HSE with your situation and what you had provided him.

COSHH guidence is actually better for you than the HSE as it states single use; it states 'Replace RPE filters as recommended by your supplier. Throw away disposable masks after one use.'

This is in the WD links on this page hse.gov.uk/cos…htm

The HSE page can also provide some info hse.gov.uk/woo…htm

Legislation wise I think it will be dependant on whether the mask used is fit to be used so often.

Good luck

According to HSE, the mask should be P3, but you will need training on it's use, including how to undertake quantitative face fit testing.
As said before the disposable mask has a protection factor of 20 (every 20 fibres outside the mask, 1 is getting in) so you need to suppress dust at source.

Banned

mattdawes699

According to HSE, the mask should be P3, but you will need training on … According to HSE, the mask should be P3, but you will need training on it's use, including how to undertake quantitative face fit testing.As said before the disposable mask has a protection factor of 20 (every 20 fibres outside the mask, 1 is getting in) so you need to suppress dust at source.



The dust mask should be one of the last sources of protection so other measures should be used as you suggested. But how can you tell the air conditions of where he works? And where does the HSE say you need a P3?

"For protection against the inhalation of formaldehyde when machining MDF, in addition to using effective local exhaust ventilation users should wear a respirator with a combined P3 and organic vapour filter to protect against both dust and formaldehyde vapour."

It's from the link the Whatsthepoint added earlier

Aren't all employers obligated under the HASAWA 1974 to ensure a safe environment? If it's a woodworking place then surely they are duty bound to prove compliance by undertaking regular dust monitoring. I have to be monitored on 10% of all work I do to ensure that my exposures aren't above control limits

I work in H&S enforcement.

Who to contact all depends on the main work activity, if it's retail based in some significant way, then the Council are responsible for H&S at your workplace, however it sounds like you're more of a manufacturing workplace so the HSE are the Enforcement Authority.

The HSE are correct in stating they will need to establish if the masks are required to be thrown out after a single use, as disposable and single-use aren't interchangable terms.

Contact them and ask them to investigate the matter, by sampling the masks and thereafter contacting the manufacturer of the masks, to establish if they are suitable for use in your work environment and how many uses they are safe for.

Under the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regs your employer is duty bound to provide PPE that is fit for use.

mattdawes699

Aren't all employers obligated under the HASAWA 1974 to ensure a safe … Aren't all employers obligated under the HASAWA 1974 to ensure a safe environment? If it's a woodworking place then surely they are duty bound to prove compliance by undertaking regular dust monitoring. I have to be monitored on 10% of all work I do to ensure that my exposures aren't above control limits



Depends on their work activity and the risk assessment they've undertaken really. Simply because your work environment requires this level of monitoring, doesn't mean every other one is.

They may have LEV in place, thereby negating the need for stringent dust monitoring, or the quantity produced may not necessitate such a control measure.

I haev to disagree there, LEV is one of the forms of dust suppression used but to make the assumption that it adequate just because it is present would never stand up in court. Records are what stand up, previous assessment of contaminants in the air.
What is the first thing you ask for as an enforcing officer visiting a site you know nothing of?
OP you mention that you are given dust masks what of other PPE, coveralls etc?

Do you have a union rep where you work? May be worth contacting them as well. I would also start logging how often your mask gets changed.
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