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Southport Reporter

Edition No. 83

Date:- 17 January 2003

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HSE WARNS AGAINST NUISANCE DUST MASKS
Report by Health and Safety Executive.

PEOPLE who work with harmful dusts should not use nuisance dust masks to protect themselves from exposure, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is today warning.

HSE is encouraging the voluntary withdrawal from sale of nuisance dustmasks, also known as comfort masks or hygiene masks, and is urging the use of approved CE-marked disposable respirators instead.

The warning is in support of the Health and Safety Commission's (HSC) campaign to reduce respiratory diseases such as occupational asthma, which is the most frequently diagnosed occupational related respiratory disease in Great Britain. HSE estimates that between 1,500 and 3,000 people develop it every year.

Nuisance dust masks should only be used when dusts are not hazardous to health, but they are often used as cheap alternatives to the correct protective equipment. 

Despite resembling the kind of disposable respirators that should be used, nuisance dust masks are not protective devices. They perform badly and do not have to meet basic health and safety requirements. 

However they are readily available to industry, DIY enthusiasts and hobbyists, which means that they may be found in a variety of occupational and domestic environments and consequently could be used for purposes that they are not intended for.

They should not be used for protection against fine dusts, welding fumes, asbestos, fine sand, paint spray, gases, vapours or aerosols. In addition, they should not be used for substances with a maximum exposure limit because the law requires that exposures to these be reduced as much as possible. This means they are unsuitable for protection against grain dust, flour dust, ferrous foundry dust, hard or softwood dust, wool process dust or fume from rosin-based solder flux. 

Similarly, nuisance dust masks should not be used to give protection from substances that cause occupational asthma but do not have occupational exposure limits. Examples include some dyes, antibiotic dusts, proteolytic enzymes and mould spores.

Dr Bob Rajan, HSE principal specialist inspector, said:- "HSE will enforce against employers who issue nuisance dust masks inappropriately when proper respirators should be used, although HSE cannot prohibit their sale. A statutory ban on these masks would require a change in European law. However HSE is committed to ensuring that workers' health is better protected. In particular, HSE has set a target of 30% reduction in new cases of occupational asthma by 2010. If nuisance dust masks have been used because of a lack of proper risk assessment, replacement by appropriate disposable respirators should show health benefits." 

Geoff Hooke, secretary general of the British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF), said, "BSIF members have expressed concern over the fact that purchasers of respiratory protection buy nuisance dust masks because of the low price. The BSIF supports the current initiative by HSE towards the elimination of nuisance dust masks from the UK market."

The withdrawal of nuisance dust masks from sale has also received the support of HSC's Industry Advisory Committees, which represent companies and trade unions from a broad cross-section of British industry.

1. Nuisance dust masks may consist of a thin metal plate that holds a piece of gauze over the nose and mouth or a lightweight filter that looks similar to a disposable dust respirator.

2. Nuisance dust masks are not classified as personal protective equipment. They are not CE-marked to show that they comply with European Directive (89/686/EEC) or against a recognised standard for respiratory protection.

3. All disposable respirators must be individually CE-marked. They are also marked to show the Eorpean standard, EN 149, and class, FFP1 (low efficiency), FFP2 (medium efficiency) or FFP3 (high efficiency). EN 149 indicates that the respirator conforms to British Standard EN 149:2001Filtering half masks to protect against particles.

4. The HSC Industry Advisory Committees, which support the withdrawal of nuisance dust masks from sale are:- the Agriculture Industry Advisory Committee (AIAC); the Deep Mined Coal Industry Advisory Committee (DCMCIAC); the Textials Industry Advisorty Committee (TEXIAC); the Rubber Industry Advisory Committee (RUBIAC); the Construction Industry Advisory Committee (CONIAC); and the Health and Safety in Bakeries Liason Committee.

PUBLIC ENQUIRIES:- Call HSE's InfoLine, tel: 08701 545500, or write to: HSE Information Services, Caerphilly Business Park, Caerphilly CF83 3GG.

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Merseyside police to tackle wayward youths
Report by Patrick Trollope.
 
SOUTHPORT played host to the Merseyside Police Authority forum this week amidst a low turn out, due to bad publicity and lack of understanding. The forum gave the public a floor to air their views on how the Police on Merseyside for should be run for the following year. 

The M.P.A. is an independent body of local councillors, magistrates and independent members whose principal function, are to consult local people on how Merseyside is policed and how its budget is to be spent to ensure efficiency, effectiveness with local councils and other agencies in the implementation of crime prevention. 

The meetings are a vital link for the M.P.A and the public, in which low turn out causes considerable problems for the group in which they feel insufficient input proves a lack of action.

However the meeting brought up some hard-hitting points. A concern in the local area that the police are not monitoring the drink drivers on Side Roads was a major point for the panel in this meeting but a police traffic spokesman said, "We have been monitoring all the main arterial roads and this has proved very effective. This is not an easy issue to tackle and we rely heavily on public information to act on this particular offence." 

Youth disorder and troublemakers causing problems in areas of low crime was also great point of concern among those in attendance. Particularly its highlight being that these youths were from outside these areas. But this was offset by something fundamentally sociological, with the rather big issue of lack of funding for the youth groups of north Sefton.

The possible migration according to some of the public in the meeting was due to the increased police presence in other areas. The M.P.A. were keen to respond with a more positive approach, "Overall in Southport, the effect of these few youths who act almost akin to gangsters have been steadily clamped and the results show a fall in youth disorder and crime. But it is only a few youths, not all youths as the reflection may suggest are the problem. We are in agreement harassment of the public by young troublemakers cannot continue." 

"However, we do not deal with the funding for such youth projects, but we agree that more has to be spent. We will try and help the groups who deal with the youth activities in the area to secure funding. It is vital that youth of today are given activities out side school and it is important to address the marketing of the groups. Often they are not advertised in a way that makes them appealing to the youth or in a way that young people they target would see the advertisements. Which seems only to fuel the former argument which results in harassment and a whole host of sociological problems which cause disturbance to the public"


Southport reporter will be following up with full reports on all the issues that arose in the meeting over the next few weeks. Including on a more positive not the 'I'll be Des' campaign, which is the latest front on which Merseyside police wish to take initiative.

Southport Reporter is Trade Mark of Patrick Trollope.   Copyright © Patrick Trollope 2003.