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Respiratory Protection

Woodworkers in all disciplines are becoming increasingly aware of the risks implicit in breathing dust-laden air.  Some may say that this is because we aren't as tough as our predecessors, but this is a simplistic and wilfully dangerous avoidance of the facts.  Modern woodworking methods - especially A very important message that will definitely affect your health.using power tools - create far more dust, of a smaller particle size, than the techniques used by previous generations.  Routing, sanding, planing and sawing equipment all produce large volumes of airborne particles.  Turning dry timber and any lathe sanding does the same.

If the accompanying text offends or upsets you, then I'm afraid that I think you are missing the point: of all of the items that you might consider wearing in your workshop, there is only one that will afford you this measure of respiratory protection - life-saving protection. In my book that message trumps all other considerations. We are working here to try to save lives - possibly your life.

We've been pretty bold here but we hope to have drawn your attention to our vital message. However, please reserve your shock for the truly shocking things in life. And that isn't that there are beautiful people in the world but that intrinsically 'beautiful' people, men and women, are being irrevocably harmed and even killed by ignoring the protection that a relatively low cost respiratory device can offer. How dare I say 'low cost'?  That's easy: my life is worth one heck of a lot more than the price of one of these devices. You may value your own mortality differently, but of my own I have no doubt. Please: don't be shocked, just be aware - and act now, before it is too late. For your own sake.

Having a chip extractor is an excellent idea, but most of those machines, especially the older types, are designed to remove only the larger particles - chips - from the airflow, as their name implies.  We all tend to call such devices 'dust-extractors' but that is not their true function.  Indeed, if the chip extractor is sited in the workshop and vents its air back into the workshop atmosphere it is probably a major source of the sub-micron size particles which are the main causes of respiratory irritations, infections - and cancers.

One of the very best of the solutions available to help combat this significant hazard is a personal dust mask or, preferably, a powered respirator.  Having used such devices for many years, we have selected proven and effective products from major manufacturers which are designed to protect your health and reduce the chance of death from respiratory illness.

The JSP 'PowerCap Active' and The 'Trend Airshield Pro'

Once upon a time workshop personal respiratory protection was dominated by the Racal/3M Airlite Powered Respirator, but this was summarily withdrawn by the manufacturers many years ago and we are not even able to obtain spares any longer - nothing at all!. Happily, other companies produce excellent personal protection equipment too and we are pleased to bring to you, the JSP PowerCap Active and Active IP and, because we always like to offer you choice, the Trend Airshield Pro.  Please note that the JSP PowerCap IP with the belt-mounted batteries is no longer available, though the filters and visor used on the current Active and earlier Lite model are identical.

JSP PowerCap Active IP
& PowerCap Active (Bradwest)

JSP PowerCap Active IP personal respirator
JSP PowerCap Active IP personal respirator with docking station

The latest version of the well tried JSP PowerCap is the Active model, shown left.
Above shows the easily removable battery being charged in its docking station.

The latest version of the PowerCap, the PowerCap Active, is the first to feature an easily removable outer cover which can be machine-laundered for hygiene, and also brings to the range a repositioned battery which allows easy access so that the battery can be simply removed from the PowerCap and placed in the supplied "dock" for charging.  This change also redistributes some of the weight of the product giving even better balance than on the already-market-leading performance of their predecessors.

We offer the JSP PowerCap Active IP for applications such as woodturning and power woodworking, where impact protection is essential. For users engaged in these activities, we would consider the use of any system which does not feature an IP-rated visor to be totally inadequate and inappropriate.

For other applications such as poultry management, pigeon-keeping, stable work, insulation installation and agricultural uses, where impact protection is less likely to be an issue (though it must always be carefully assessed) we offer a version lacking the Impact-Resistant (IP) visor, as previously marketed under the Bradwest brand name.

The JSP PowerCap Active respirator offers many advantages over its competitors such as an unrivalled low head weight of 440g, superior balance, a high impact protection ('IP') visor (to EN166) in its IP form - not to mention an affordable price, which makes life insurance premiums look prohibitive (and what is a respirator other than a life assurance device?). Being constructed around  a bump cap, it really does make the whole assembly more comfortable for longer periods of wear, in my opinion. Indeed a point often missed by those who promote particular approaches to respiratory protection is that to be effective, a respirator must be sufficiently comfortable that it will be worn - at all times. A respirator sitting in its box is not a respirator, it is an indictment of user malpractice. The two externally mounted filters are also very easy to remove and replace with a simple twist of the wrist.

We feel that we should bring to your attention the fact that there are other, similar looking, powered respirators out there in the market which appear to be the same unit, even down to the impact-resistant faceshield. However, we must advise that these units are built to a lower specification, primarily in pursuit of our price point! What the suppliers of this unit have failed to realise is that we hold our price point, not by supplying an inferior product, but by taking a much lower margin on the product because we believe, and believe very strongly, that all folk exposed to dust hazards should be protected. We have striven to make it as affordable as we possibly can for you to achieve that. Call it enlightened self-interest, if you wish, but it is your life we are working to protect! Rather like the un-worn respirator, the unaffordable version does nothing to help safeguard the health of anyone.

The PowerCap Active does away with trailing battery leads, belt mounted batteries and the ever-present danger of cable snagging and replaces this with a pair of ultra-compact Lithium Ion batteries integral to the unit - actually mounted on the rear of the bump cap.  These batteries, as used on mobile telephones, still provide a full eight hours of fresh, clean air at a rate of 180 litres/minute and are easily recharged overnight using the supplied battery charger and charging dock.  This battery technology means that the Active version has a lower head weight with batteries installed than did the old standard version with the batteries mounted in the waist pack by a staggering 15%!  Amazing but true.  The other features of the PowerCap Active mirror those of the  former standard version, without compromise, and the accessories are common to both if you have one of the older units.

The narrow visor gives excellent visibility whilst the JSP PowerCap IP in use: note lack of bulk and 'beard compatibility'!absence of a bottom "frame" eliminates the annoying habit, found with other designs of respirator, of being knocked up off the head as you drop your chin to see the work! The soft face surround fits comfortably over prescription glasses in normal frames and, because the visor area is slightly pressurised, facial hair does not impair the operation of the unit (refer to photo!).

Replacement filters are easily fitted with a bayonet-style twist and lock system.  The pre-filters incorporated in the main filters can be changed independently of the filter cartridge and regular replacing of these pre-filters can significantly extend the life of the main filter material.  The pre-filters are changed by removing the outer, white, part of the moulding of the filter cartridge,  taking out the old filter (a thin disc of filter matrix material) and replacing this with a new pre-filter (do not disturb, or attempt to service, the main filter). The outer cover of the cartridge snaps securely in place over the new pre-filter. The unit should not be used without the pre-filter mounted correctly in place.

The PowerCap Active IP provides respiratory protection to EN12491:1988 TH1P. Interestingly the filtration efficiency of the PowerCap Active is such that it would meet the standards of performance set for TH2P protection. The reason that it is not classified as TH2P is because it lacks the audible alarms for battery and filter configuration demanded by the TH2P specification. So excellent performance in terms of filtration, ease of use, comfort - and price - but, quite literally, lacking the whistles and bells demanded by the TH2P specification.

The bump cap incorporated in the PowerCap Active gives head protection to EN812 and the visor gives the all-important impact protection to EN.166.B.1.  It is supplied with the complete respirator assembly, with eight-hour batteries built in, plus configurable charger (with connector arrangement appropriate to the location voltage and electrical outlet style), two filters, a flow-rate meter, instructions and is packed in a rigid plastic storage box.  The standard PowerCap Active version is similar in all respects but does NOT include the impact resistant (IP) faceshield.

As you well know, we recognise the need for quality respiration equipment and we would not supply this item to you if we would not be happy using it ourselves: in fact we do use it ourselves!


NB: We are no longer able to supply spare batteries or battery holders for earlier PowerCaps which have a belt-mounted battery pack with a cable between the headpiece and battery.

Trend Airshield Pro

 Trend Airshield Pro respirator click for larger imageThe latest in the Trend lineup of respirators is the stylish AirshieldPro, pictured here.  Compared to its predecessor, the new product offers enhanced filtering capacity, lighter weight thanks to new battery technology, double the battery life and a simpler filter arrangement, but it retains the features which made it a favourite in workshops for many years - the flip-up visor, freedom from external battery packs and an easily replaceable visor. 

The system is supplied ready to use (once the battery is charged) and the standard package includes: the respirator, as illustrated; an 8 hour battery; a UK 220/240 volt battery charger; a pair of THP2 file dust filters; an airflow indicator for testing battery and filter status; a clear visor overlay and a soft storage bag.

The full spec of the Trend Airshield Pro is as follows:-

    • Minimum Airflow:  160 litres/minute
    • Airflow, fully charged:  200 litres/minute
    • Headband size (head circumference):  520 mm - 620 mm
    • Motor noise level:  72 dB
    • Battery working time (fully charged):  8 hours
    • Weight in working order, approx:  995 g
    • Charger supply voltage:  230 volt, single phase
    • Charger pin configuration:  UK standard 3-pin.
    • Eye protection rating:  BS EN 166 (low energy impact)
    • Respiratory protection (NPF50):  to BS EN 12941 THP2

The original Trend Airshield is no longer current and parts are no longer available.


JSP JetStream Industrial Dust/Gas/Vapour Respirator

Some applications require the use of a more comprehensive respirator system capable of protecting the wearer from gas and/or vapour hazards as well as dust. In these instances we recommend the use of the JSP Jetstream belt-mounted filtration unit connect by an air hose to the industrial 'grinding' style impact resistant headpiece.

The waist mounted blower unit contains the battery pack as well as the blower. An alarm warns of blocked filter or low power conditions. The battery provides up to 8 hours continuous operation from a single overnight charge. The air delivery of the blower unit is 180 litres of air per minute which will provide sufficient air to cope with even strenuous activity whilst wearing the unit.

As well as the various filter packs available as spares, alternative configurations and headpieces are available. Please contact us for further advice if your application demands a different configuration than the - basically dust protection - set-up presented here.

The unit is supplied in a plastic storage bin and includes the grinding visor headtop; filter unit; connecting hose; flow meter for flowrate testing; and battery charger with lead and plug.


 Disposable Dust Masks

JSP BER130 Flexinet disposable valved dust mask with pre-formed cup Unlike the Powered Respirators, above, this section shows passive devices - dust masks - but which still provide a high level of protection from the type of hazards most frequently found in woodworking operations, and manufactured by some of the world's leading Health & Safety suppliers.

All of the types we have selected feature superior technologies and incorporate a valve, making these masks much less fatiguing to wear than the 'conventional' fabric-filter type mask. Yet JSP BEB130 Fold-flat disposable valved dust maskthey are sufficiently economical to be used as a workshop standby for visitors, trainees and students.  For a those not prepared, or able, to invest in a mask system such as the Powercap or Airshield (see above), these mask offers fully approved protection and could save your life - or at least extend it.  The economical 3M model 8822 conforms to the internationally-recognised EN149 FFP2S standards to give protection up to 10 x WEL. (Workplace Exposure Limit) - i.e. APF=10. Both of the JSP models listed - one with a moulded cup and the second in a neat fold-flat design to be easily pocketable - offer the higher protection defined under classification FFP3 giving an APF of 20xWEL (i.e. APF=20).

3M 8822 Disposable Dust MaskA word of warning: these masks rely on producing a good seal between the edge of the mask and the wearer's face.  This is not possible to achieve if facial hair (e.g.: a beard) is interposed between the mask and the skin, hence these masks cannot be recommended for use by wearers with facial hair.  Bearded woodworkers are advised to use a full face mask system such as those shown above. Style BER130 from JSP incorporates a flexible foam seal designed to improve the fit of the mask, helpful for users with facial hair: this can also reduce the tendency for glasses to mist up, due to leaked air percolating upwards from the top seal area of disposable masks.The JSP masks listed incorporate latex-free elastic straps, avoiding any risk of allergenic reaction.


*NB: Prices quoted in pounds sterling. 
Value Added Tax will be added to invoices to EU residents unless
a valid VAT registration number is quoted when ordering.

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1997-2006 P. Hemsley.  The information on this website is the copyright property of Peter Hemsley. 
Coeur du Bois and The ToolPost are trading styles of Peter Hemsley.  Whilst reasonable efforts are made to ensure the accuracy of information presented, no liability can be accepted for errors in this information nor for contingencies arising therefrom.  If you are inexperienced in any aspect of woodworking, we would strongly counsel that you take a course of formal instruction before commencing to practice