We’ve explored face masks before, the importance of wearing them, and what types are best for protection against COVID-19, which can be found in our complete guide to face masks. However, with yet another rise in COVID UK hospital admissions, we thought it’d be beneficial to explore FFP3 respirators in further detail and explain how they’re used on the frontline effectively.

But before we get into FFP3 respirators specifically, let’s take a look at how they vary from surgical masks.

FFP respirators vs surgical masks

It’s important to understand the different types of face coverings. They’re intended use and purpose differ and could potentially cause more harm than good if used in the wrong circumstances.

FFP respirators

Surgical masks

Offer two-way protection, filtering both inflow and outflow of air Offer one-way protection, capturing bodily fluids expelled by wearer
Designed to protect wearer up to mask’s safety rating Designed to protect others in surrounding area
Tight fitting for facial seal Loose fitting, covers nose and mouth
FFP3 respirator

What does FFP3 mean?

Respirators labelled with ‘FFP’ stand for Filtering Face Piece. These are designed to filter out dust, particles and aerosols, while providing protection against the transmission of viruses and bacteria via coughing or sneezing.

The ‘3’ stands for the level of protection the respirator has to offer (3 being the highest FFP rating). You can also find FFP1 and FFP2 rated masks.

When should an FFP3 respirator be worn?

FFP3 respirators are only required when undertaking Aerosol Generating Procedures (AGP). This is because the AGP process generates aerosols which can result in exposure to viral particles. They should also be worn by frontline carers when patients have, or have symptoms of, COVID-19.

Why do FFP3 respirators need fit testing?

It’s crucial an FFP3 respirator fits correctly and provides an adequate seal to protect against airborne transmission of COVID-19. If the respirator isn’t sealed correctly, air containing the virus could escape the filter and pass through.

How are FFP3 respirators fit tested?

Step 1

An FFP3 fit test starts with a demonstration of how to put on the respirator properly. The candidate then puts on their own mask and moulds it to their face.

Step 2

Before the final fit test takes place, a taste sensitivity screening must be performed (no mask is worn during this step). This involves a hood being placed over the candidate’s head while the operator dispenses two types of sprays, one after the other, into the hood. This helps determine the candidate’s level of sensitivity and defines how much to administer during the full test.

Step 3

The final step is to perform the fit test. The mask should now be put back on, followed by the hood. The solution is then puffed in again, with the number of sprays depending on the candidate’s sensitivity. Once the solution is in, the candidate must do the following in order:

  • Breathe normally
  • Breathe deeply
  • Move head from side to side
  • Nod head up and down
  • Lean forward
  • Talk
  • Breathe normally

How does the fit test work?

If the respirator fits properly, the candidate won’t be able to taste the solution during the test and can now use the FFP3 mask following PPE guidelines.

FFP3 respirators from SANIQUE

At SANIQUE, we stock both valved and non-valved FFP3 respirators for all your PPE needs. With bulk price discounts and free delivery on all orders over £200, there’s no need to look elsewhere. For more information on our mask offering and wider PPE range, contact our expert team today, we’d be more than happy to help.

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