Ear loop respirators / masks

Bulletin issued: 27 April 2022

Ear loop respirators / masks do not provide protection as tight fitting RPE

The HSE has issued a safety alert about how respirators / masks which rely on ear loops do not provide protection as tight fitting Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE).

The HSE does not recommend using ear loop masks / respirators as tight fitting RPE at work in GB.

HSE has seen an increase in the variety of ear loop respirators/masks, which indicate they offer the protection provided by FFP2 (filtering facepiece respirators or disposable half mask respirators). These products rely on having a good seal with the wearer’s face. For the majority of workers who are required to wear tight fitting RPE in the workplace, this seal cannot be achieved with a respirator/mask relying on ear loops to hold it in place. New HSE research has revealed that respirators / masks which rely on ear loops to hold the respirator / mask in place, do not protect people adequately when used as tight fitting respiratory protective equipment (RPE).

This safety alert advises duty holders, who have these items available in their workplaces, to revisit their Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (as amended) risk assessment and consider their RPE provision to ensure it is adequate, suitable for the user and the activity to be undertaken.

Further information can be found at www.hse.gov.uk