BLS Multi Fit System concept
Design experience, constant innovation on technologies and materials, compliance with standards and quality standards and attention to awareness and training contribute to the offer of products that are increasingly close to the needs of users.
For a long time, PPE manufacturers have concentrated their efforts on developing “universal” products that could be used by all users. In reality, we have come to the conclusion that it is very difficult for a PPE to perfectly fit all the various facial conformations.
BLS concept of Multi Fit System reflects a focus on declining as many product sizes as possible to ensure comfort and the best fit on all faces.
The validation of a passive respirator on each and every user by means of Fit Test is an obligation in the UK since long and in Italy since the end of 2021. In Spain there are Fit testing requirements in case of working environments where silica is present, in France and in some Scandinavian countries for asbestos, while in Germany it is strongly recommended by DGUV Regel 112-190. The need to have some common rules across Europe on this topic is very much felt and the European Commission is working on it, as it is considered to be an important tool to prevent occupational diseases. The Assigned Protection Factor of each respirator is a realistic value only if the fit of the respirator itself is guaranteed.
The process of designing at BLS R&D is articulated in various phases: we start to analyse the users’ needs, then we evaluate materials, possible shapes and dimensions, assembling, comfort, ergonomics, ease of use and compatibility with other PPE. This process is supported by the use of specific tools, such as 3D scanners and Sheffield head form. We afterwards proceed to internal testing of the prototypes with the most advanced testing systems and a final check is performed through quantitative Fit Test, to guarantee top performances.
BLS products not only exceed the parameters set by European standards, in terms of filtering efficiency and breathing resistance, but they also guarantee a high level of comfort and fit. These performances are achieved thanks to a number of features, such as well-designed gaskets, headband adjustments and the availability of different sizes, which are particularly important to cover a large number of face profiles at best.
According to recent ILOSTAT data, women represent 39.3% of the total worksforce, on a global scale: for them it is not always easy to guarantee the right level of protection and comfort with a standard size respirator. In order to fully comply with its Multi-Fit philosophy, BLS has decided to integrate in its product range the dual size concept, also for disposable masks: the multisize concept is therefore now developed across the entire range of passive respirators.
The risks for the breathing apparatus are often underestimated, since they normally do not provoke an immediately tangible accident: the effects of unprotected exposures to contaminants are often perceived after many years. It is not an easy task for Safety Managers to make workers fully aware of long-term risks and, in order to support them, BLS has made available a Safety Guide, detailing the risks and consequences of a lack of an adequate protection in a number of working situations: the theoretical part is followed by some guidelines on the selection of the right respirator, depending on the specific contaminant.
Category III PPE imply an obligation for the worker to undergo a usage training: not only it is necessary to perform an efficient training and make sure that the user has well understood how important the correct fitting is, but it is also necessary to carefully record the results for future reference. Quantitative Fit Test of all passive respirators is an excellent tool to raise awareness on the importance of a good fit and to keep track of what has been performed to achieve the desired goal.