Respirator selection tool

Developed by the Health and Safety Executive, NHS Health Scotland and Healthy Working Lives (HWL), the Respirator selection tool has been developed to help workplaces find the right respirator for their employees and help manage their respiratory protection programme.

The tool was developed by the Health and Safety Executive, NHS Health Scotland and Healthy Working Lives (HWL). This tool can be used by New Zealand workplaces to assist in choosing and managing the correct respiratory protection, however there are some important points listed below that you need to read and consider before using this tool for your workplace. 

Before using this tool in a New Zealand workplace, you must be aware of the following:

  • Qualifiers. Please be aware of the ‘qualifiers’ given on the Step 1 of the tool.
  • New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 1715:2009 Selection, use and maintenance of respiratory protective equipment. The UK respirator selector tool is based on the Health and Safety Executive’s RPE guidance HSG53. In the UK, the RPE standards differ from the New Zealand Standard (AS/NZS 1715:2009) in terms of the protection level allocated to different types of respirators. As such using this tool does not necessarily meet the requirements of the selection of RPE as per AS/NZS 1715. However the UK protection levels are equal to, or are more conservative (tougher) than the New Zealand standards for more than 90% of the respirator types listed in AS/NZS 1715. The exceptions are given in Table 1 below. If your assessment recommends one of the respirator types listed in Table 1, please seek expert advice to determine if the recommendation complies with AS/NZS 1715.
  • Fit testing should be carried out when the worker is first provided with a close fitting respirator and at least annually, or wherever there is a change in the wearers facial characteristics or other features which may affect the facial seal (reference AS/NZS 1715:2009). Search the Yellow Pages or internet for a consultant that does respirator fit testing, or ask your RPE manufacturer, or supplier.
  • HSNO classifications and H-numbers. This tool uses H-numbers to identify the health risks of the substances concerned. On New Zealand safety data sheets the H-number is not always present, though H-statements (a phrase that describes the health risk) must be present. If your SDS doesn’t show H-numbers, use Table 2 below to convert from either  the HSNO classifications to H-numbers, or the H-statements to H-numbers. You may have multiple H-numbers for your substance. If the substance has no HSNO Classification or the H-numbers for your substance aren’t listed, select ‘none of the above H-statements apply’ in Step 6 of the tool.
  • Confined spaces. If working in, or entering confined spaces please read this guidance
  • HSNO controls. Toxic, flammable or corrosive substances are subject to HSNO controls. Please see the following for guidance
  • Advice or expert help. If you are not confident selecting respiratory protection, or using the Selector Tool, seek help from your RPE supplier, RPE manufacturer, or a competent consultant via www.hasanz.org.nz(external link); or search the yellow pages(external link).
  • Worksafe resources: Worksafe New Zealand’s website provides essential information for RPE selection. Se Respiratory Protective Equipment – Advice for workers

WorkSafe is not responsible for the contents or reliability of the linked websites and does not necessarily endorse the views expressed within them. For further information see our disclaimer

A guide to respiratory protection (PDF 381 KB)

Table 1: Respirator comparison – HSG53 (2013) compared with AS/NZS 1715 (2009)

Respirator typeUK Assigned protection factor (Ref HSG53)AS/NZS 1715 required minimum protection factor
Disposable ½ face respirator with P3 filter 20 Not listed
Reusable ½  face respirator with P3 filter for mechanically or thermally generated particulates 20 < 10
Full face piece respirator with P1 filter 4 Not listed
Powered respirator with full face piece and P1 filter for thermally generated particulates 10 Not listed
Powered respirator with hood for gas/vapour 10-40 Not listed
Airline + full suit for mechanically or thermally generated particulates 10-200 Not listed
Airline + full suit for gas/vapour 10-200 100+
Self-contained breathing apparatus positive pressure demand 2000 100+
Positive pressure demand airline with full face piece 2000 100+

 Look on your safety data sheet for the HSNO classifications. Using the table below, write down all the corresponding H numbers for your HSNO classifications. Use the H numbers in the E-tool.

Table 2: HSNO classification and equivalent H-numbers

HSNO ClassificationEquivalent H No.Equivalent H Statement
6.1A oral or 6.1B oral H300 Fatal if swallowed
6.1C oral H301 Toxic if swallowed
6.1D oral H302 Harmful if swallowed
6.1E aspiration hazard H304 May be fatal if swallowed and enters airways
6.1A dermal H310 Fatal in contact with skin
6.1B dermal or 6.1C dermal H311 Toxic in contact with skin
6.1D dermal H312 Harmful in contact with skin
6.1A inhalation or 6.1B inhalation H330 Fatal if inhaled
6.1C inhalation H331 Toxic if inhaled
6.1D inhalation H332 Harmful if inhaled
6.1E H335 May cause respiratory irritation
6.3A or 6.3B H315 Causes skin irritation
6.4A H319 Causes serious eye irritation
6.5A H334 May cause allergy or asthma symptoms or breathing difficulties if inhaled
6.5B H317 May cause an allergic skin reaction
6.6A H340 May cause genetic defects
6.6B H341 Suspected of causing genetic defects
6.7A H350 May cause cancer
6.7B H351 Suspected of causing cancer
6.8A H360 May damage fertility or the unborn child
6.8B H361 Suspected of damaging fertility or the unborn child
6.8C H362 May cause harm to breast-fed children
6.9A single exposure H370 Causes damage to organs
6.9A repeated exposure H372 Causes damage to organs through prolonged or repeated exposure
6.9B single exposure H371 May cause damage to organs
6.9B repeated exposure H373 May cause damage to organs through prolonged or repeated exposure
8.2A or 8.2B or 8.2C H314 Causes severe burns and eye damage
8.3A H318 Causes serious eye damage

The RPE selector tool can be found at:  www.healthyworkinglives.com/rpe-selector(external link)