Disposable Masks Procedure

Maximise the use of disposable particulate respirators

To ensure you are getting the maximum use out of the respirators:

  • For airborne contaminants except for asbestos, don’t automatically replace the disposable respirator after a rest break or because it is sweaty and mildly/moderately dirty on the outside. Instead, extend the wear time according to the following criteria:
    • As part of your risk assessment for Covid-19, the maximum time the disposable respirator can be used before disposal is 8-hours[2], unless any of the following occurs:
      • The breathing resistance becomes excessive to the wearer.
      • Any damage occurs e.g. broken strap, torn or ripped etc.
      • The respirator becomes unhygienic i.e. it has been coughed/sneezed into and the inside is in an unacceptable condition.
      • The outside of the respirator becomes excessively contaminated by dust, or dust has infiltrated the inside of the respirator. It is important to note here that regardless of supply problems with disposable respirators, higher order controls such as local extraction ventilation (LEV) should always be in place to prevent excessive dust that causes such visible contamination of any respirator.
      • The respirator no longer fits tightly to the face.
    • In your personal hygiene pack is a sealable plastic bag to be used to store disposable respirators in between uses. You may want to label on the respirator itself between uses, with the user’s name to reduce accidental usage of another person’s respirator.
    • Where respirators are being reused following a rest break, ensure facilities are available to support the following steps:
      • Before removing the respirator—wash hands,
      • Remove respirator and wash face,
      • Ensure a user fit check is completed each time disposable RPE is re fitted, and
      • Dispose of RPE if damaged, dust is present inside the RPE or it no longer fit tightly and conforms to the wearers face.
    • Reschedule work for when disposable respirators are available—for example, when your supplier has promised delivery of the respirators.
    • Ensure respirator use is based upon the risk of exposure and is rationalised—restrict access to respirators to staff who need to use them, i.e. whose work puts them at risk of exposure to a hazardous dust.