It is a legal requirement to ensure that the quality of breathable air being supplied to an operator is at a suitable standard.
The objective of these legal requirements are.
To ensure the respiratory safety of operatives entering and working in areas considered to be hazardous to health.
Criteria for breathing air
- BS EN 12021:1999
- BS 529:2005 (supersedes BS 4275-1997)
- COSSH Regulations
- DEF STAN 68 – 284/3
- HTM 02 01
COSHH states that
‘As an employer, there is a clear responsibility under the requirements of the HSE to provide fit for purpose safety equipment for all employees that may work in an environment or carry out a process which may be hazardous to the employee’s health.
Should an employer fail to provide and maintain this equipment, they will be liable for any damages claimed by an affected employee.’
BS 529:2005 states that in the case of compressed air for breathing apparatus ‘the volume flow and quality of the air should be thoroughly tested at intervals as specified by a competent person’. COSHH regulations state that ‘testing should be conducted at least once every 3 months and more frequently when the quality of the air supplied cannot be assured’.
Any defects observed should be remedied before further use.
Testing must not only be completed but must also be documented and records retained for a minimum of 5 years.