SafeWork SA has published new information on Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE).

The state’s safety regulator says recent compliance program audits relating to crystalline silica and licensed asbestos removal highlighted the need for greater education and understanding on the correct selection and use of RPE to manage the risk of occupational exposure.

SafeWork SA has issued 162 statutory notices associated with RPE in the past 3 years. Of these, 78 per cent of prohibition notices and 48 per cent of improvement notices were issued to the construction industry.

 Many of these notices were issued for the incorrect selection of RPE providing inadequate protection for the wearer, poor fit or failure to train wearers in the use of RPE when working with hazardous substances such as asbestos and silica dust. These substances can cause serious health conditions if breathed in by a worker.

“Selecting the incorrect RPE for the task or RPE that does not fit correctly is ineffective and may give the wearer a false sense of protection,” says SafeWork SA Executive Director, Martyn Campbell.

“For many workers, the incorrect use of RPE is putting their health at risk.”

RPE is used to manage residual risks of exposure after all other reasonably practicable control measures have been implemented.

SafeWork SA's new guidance information on RPE is accessible here.