MPACT invests in mask and filter equipment to ensure total safety for its employees

An award-winning Edinburgh building services specialist has invested several thousands of pounds to ensure that its workforce enjoys the highest possible standards of respiratory protection when operating in conditions which require fitted face masks.

MPACT, which is based in Loanhead and operates nationally, has invested not only in state-of the-art masks and filters, but also in up-to-the-minute Face-Fit testing equipment and the time and expense of training personnel in equipment use.

It is the latest initiative by an enterprise which gives priority to the physical and mental wellbeing of its workforce, and which last year was named Large Contractor of the Year by electrical trade body SELECT.

Martin Robertson, Health and Safety Manager at MPACT, said: “It is a legal requirement to make sure that, if an employee is wearing a mask, then that mask is effective and meets safety standards.

“But our testing regime is also part of the duty of care that we owe to our workers and we will go to any lengths to ensure that they will only be asked to operate in a safe and compliant environment.”

Fit-Testing is required in the UK under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health regulations as well as the Control of Lead at Work and Control of Asbestos at Work regulations.

The Health and Safety Executive insists that all employees required to wear tight fitting respiratory protection equipment must be Fit-Tested before initial use. There are two primary methods of Fit Testing – quantitative (particle counting) and qualitative (taste).

MPACT uses the second method and has trained Mr Robertson and another tester to provide an in-house service which checks compliance of the half-fit masks and specialised filters which the company supplies for work in dusty or polluted situations.

They operate by placing a hood over the operative while he or she is wearing a mask and filter and then spraying a bitter solution into the hood. If the operative can taste it, the mask must be adjusted until it is operating effectively and no taste can be detected.

“One requirement is that employees who are being tested must be clean-shaven, or as close to clean-shaven as they can be,” said Mr Robertson. “This unfortunately mean that beards and other facial hair are out.”

MPACT, which has a strong corporate social responsibility agenda, employs 65 people, including electricians, plumbers, carpenters and joiners as well as a large proportion of apprentices. It is predicting a turnover of £10 million in the year to March.