SATA air-fed masks – safe and comfortable by design

While SATA is well known as a premium spray gun manufacturer with a focus on product innovation, it also supplies industry leading PPE – something that in many ways is the most essential item a modern-day spray painter should have.

The inhalation of atomised isocyanate materials makes the likelihood of developing occupational asthma much more widespread than workers in other work occupations.

Protecting oneself from the known hazard – isocyanates – is only one part of the health story. What also needs to be considered is the quality of the compressed air that the painter is breathing.

Compressed air that is supplied to the air-fed mask must meet EN12021, which stipulates the minimum quality standards for breathable compressed air and includes the levels for oxygen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, lubricants, water and other types of contaminants and odour.

Safety through filtration

While the use of two-stage filtration systems, such as the SATA filter 244 unit, will give the compressed air a clean bill of health with regard to particulate and droplets, it will not eliminate odours and oil vapours. To remove those prior to breathing the air, an adsorption filter is additionally required. In essence, this means either the inclusion of a belt-hung charcoal/carbon filter unit or using a three-stage filter, such as the SATA 284 filter which has a charcoal element in the third stage.

But if carbon monoxide or dioxide are detected, the adsorption filter will not suffice, and the source of the gases should be investigated and resolved. So, when selecting an air-fed mask, make sure that one or both of the above are included in your system.

It is also mandatory for all air-fed full-face positive pressure respirators to have an audible warning device to alert the user should the positive pressure stop being maintained. With the SATA air vision 5000 and SATA vision 2000, the warning whistle is located within the hood itself, thus ensuring the operator has the best chance of hearing it.

Clear view

The two available SATA full-face mask options both have a single tear-off visor covering an aperture in the face surround of the mask, unlike other masks available on the UK market, which have a rigid clear visor over which the painter affixes tear-off visors.

The key benefit to the painter is that with the SATA masks they are viewing the paint application through a single thin clear visor rather than through a thicker clear rigid visor, which may suffer from unclear vision and irritating reflections.

Additionally, every time the visor cover requires replacement (practically the frequency with both systems should be the same) the SATA single visor system will be as clear as new, while a fixed clear rigid visor can get scratched.

Away from health protection elements, the comfort and effectiveness of the air-fed mask from the user’s perspective must also be considered.

The SATA masks both allow the air flow to the hood to be independently adjusted on the belt unit for operator comfort. They also feature fabric head covers that ensure the entire head is adequately covered. Again, it is essential to ensure that the internal positive pressure is maintained without requiring larger air volume consumption.

The design and hinge of the face piece also ensures that, when the painter is not using the air-fed mask in the booth, they can safely lift the face piece up and know it will stay elevated.

The SATA masks also have internal hygiene inserts and forehead sweat bands which are available to be changed as frequently as the operator sees fit, ensuring the contact between the painter’s face/forehead and mask is clean and hygienic.

There will be situations when, for a variety of reasons, a painter may not feel comfortable wearing a full-face hood. If these situations SATA offers the SATA air star C which is a half-face air-fed mask.

The only time that this type of mask cannot be worn is when the operator has a beard, since the beard could interfere with the fit of the mask to the painter’s face.