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Along with all the other social media platforms, YouTube is one I occasionally dip into, being particularly valuable for visual information when you want to see something explained. Axminster’s recent 30-second video on their new APF10 Evolution Powered Respirator is a good case in point.

As it turned out, the other day I happened to be watching a turning clip, where a professional turner had a camera mounted over the lathe and was batch producing a number of plates.

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The process in itself was interesting, but as the clip progressed, it gradually dawned on me that he was paying absolutely no attention, nothing, to even rudimentary H&S procedures.

No dust mask, no extraction, no face mask.

Dust, for a woodworker, ‘goes with the territory’  and it’s my own view that we tend to approach this menace from different directions, but however it’s tackled we owe it to ourselves to try and keep down our exposure to the barest minimum. One of the biggest generators of dust and chippings is when they get thrown into the surrounding air from a speedily revolving job on the lathe.

Whenever the spinny urge gets to me, I’m always togged out in a face shield and  FFP2 dust mask, which is effective, but not entirely comfortable. As I’ve been afflicted with poor eyesight since I were nowt but a lad, I’ve had to wear glasses and this is a critical factor wearing any sort of face shield or dust mask. The face shield is good, but cumbersome and the mask means that every few minutes, my glasses get steamed up so I need to go through the seemingly eternal rigmarole of taking them off for cleaning.

The Evolution* APF10 Powered Respirator promises to be a solution to these woes so I’m keen to give it a test drive to see how it performs. Essentially, it’s based on a hard ‘bump cap’ with a battery pack at the rear (which also provides a balancing effect) with the motor and twin filters on top of the peak, onto which is clipped a wraparound polycarbonate visor and close fitting skirt. The battery can be charged ‘in situ’ or in a separate dock and provides 8hrs of use, during which it will power the motor to provide 160 litres p/minute of filtered air.

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One has to tread a little cautiously when reciting information from the H&S executive as it becomes all too easy to be waylaid in a tangle of techno-babble. Put simply, the Evolution is a piece of Respiratory Protective Equipment, or RPE which conforms to EN12941 TH1P and the bump cap exceed the A1 variant of EN812.

Quoting from the same executive..

“Each RPE type and class is categorised by an assigned protection factor (APF). The APF is a number rating that indicates how much protection that RPE is capable of providing. For example, RPE with an APF of 10 will reduce the wearer’s exposure by at least a factor of 10 if used properly, or, to put it another way, the wearer will only breathe in one-tenth or less of the amount of substance present in the air.”

The Evolution is a compact respirator, with only a slight learning curve to master how to fit and adjust it; moreover, when it’s switched on, the motor noise is quite loud, but there are ear defenders that can be purchased separately which help to reduce this and provide behind the head SNR = 26.

Another crucial factor is that it fits easily over my glasses and I can still adjust their position inside the visor by waggling the arms a fraction outside the respirator.

The new Evolution has a pair of twist and lock, sealed filter cartridges which can’t be cleaned or allowed to become wet. However, each filter contains a pre-filter which can be replaced quite easily and if changed frequently, the life of the cartridge can be greatly extended.

The Evolution respirator will not only keep your lungs cleaner in the workshop but will also protect your head from unwarranted collisions with nasty, hard objects that had no business being in the way. In addition, the Evolution is so comfortable to wear, it’s even good when I’m doing a bit of typing!

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* Evolution® is a registered trademark of JSP Ltd, used under licence by Axminster Tool Centre Ltd.

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