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For all tight fitting respirator masks, this includes disposable masks, half masks and full face masks, it is a UK legal requirement that, at initial selection of the product the wearers is fit tested. Research in the UK has shown that up to half of the Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) currently in use does not provide the wearer with the level of protection expected. One of the major reasons for this is that it simply does not fit.
RPE must be ‘Adequate’ and ‘Suitable’. ‘Adequate’ means that the RPE is right for the hazard and reduces exposure to the level required to protect the wearer’s health, while ‘Suitable’ means that the RPE is right for the wearer and the task and the environment, such that the wearer can work freely and without additional risks due to the RPE.
At our fully equipped Fit Test Centre based in Wellingborough we have Fit2Fit accredited fit testers that can provide quantitative and qualitative face fit testing. As RPE experts we pride ourselves on our professional, efficient and flexible approach to our customers. Our Fit2Fit accredited fit testers will guide you through the correct RPE to use depending on the hazards you face in your work place, show you how to correctly don/doff your mask and how to maintain and store your RPE.
5 Steps to ensure your future respiratory health:
Full Support Group
66-80 Huxley Close
Park Farm Industrial Estate
On the day of training:
Frequently Asked Questions (click question to reveal answers)
Yes, face fit testing is a legal requirement for anyone who wears a tight (or close) fitting mask for work.
The supporting guidance from COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health), CLAW (Control of Lead at Work), CAR (Control of Asbestos Regulations) and the Ionising Radiation Regulations, stipulate that fit testing should be carried out as part of the initial mask selection process. This ensures that inadequately fitting face pieces are not selected for use.
Face fit testing is required for all tight fitting facepieces:
There are two types of test.
Qualitative Test – Takes around 15-20 minutes
Quantitative Test – Takes 15-20 minutes
The test should be carried out 'regularly' or if the wearer:
Some companies have a policy in place for how often you should be fit tested, if you are unsure then please check with your employer.
A competent person should carry out a face fit test. Competency can be proven by accreditation to the BSIF Fit2Fit Fit Testers Accreditation Scheme, all Full Support Fit Testers are Fit2Fit accredited.
Every company should keep a record of their employees fit test results which should clearly state the mask make, model and size of the mask tested.
Records should always be available for inspection by the HSE if required.
The HSE website has information and links to other sources - www.hse.gov.uk
The HSE document, 'Fit Testing of Respiratory Protective Facepieces, OC282/28', gives information on the legal requirement for testing and lays down the protocol for carrying out a test.
The HSE document, 'HSG 53, Respiratory Protective Equipment at Work', gives guidance on the selection and use of RPE.
Tight fitting is the terms usually given to a full face mask, a half mask or a filtering face piece that relies heavily on the quality of the fit of the face piece to the wearers face. Loose fitting face pieces include visors, helmets, hoods and blouses.
No. However, you need to ensure that the make, model, type and size of face piece that you wear is the same as the mask worn during the face fit test.
No - the test is not a fitness test or a health check. The test is to determine how well the mask fits your face, NOT if you are fit enough to wear the mask. You do not have to be super fit to take the test but they will be expected to walk (not run) on a treadmill or step up and step down slowly for about 10 minutes.
A fit check for a face mask involves checking the seal by creating a negative pressure inside the mask and causing the mask to 'suck' onto the face. This is a very quick test and does not take account of the movements a wearer makes during the course of their work or the effects of pressure inside the mask once working. The only accurate method of testing for a seal is to carry out a face fit test.
Tight fitting face pieces rely on achieving good contact between the wearer's skin and the face seal of the face piece. As people come in different shapes and sizes it is unlikely that one type of mask will fit everyone. A poor fit will reduce the level of protection and may lead to immediate or long term ill health of the wearer. A fit test is also useful for checking that the wearer can correctly don (put on) the face piece.
The fit test will be carried out using the face piece that you normally wear or one identical to it. If you are to be fit tested in your own face piece then the face piece should be clean and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
If you need to wear more than one type of tight-fitting face piece for their job, e.g. a filtering face piece and a full-face mask respirator, then you should be fit tested for each type of face piece.
When the test has been completed, you will be told if you have obtained a pass or a fail. A pass means that the face piece is suitable for you. A failed fit test may indicate that the face piece does not fit properly.
The fit tester will ask you to refit the face piece and repeat the fit test. If a better fit is not obtained they may ask you to try a different size or type of face piece and repeat the fit test. You should not use a face piece that does not fit you properly.
In accordance with HSE Protocol OC 282/28 Paragraph 98 states you should not conduct a fit test if there is ANY hair growth between the skin & the face piece sealing surface, such as stubble beard growth, beard, moustache, sideburns or low hairline which cross the respirator sealing surface. You should also refrain from eating, smoking or drinking anything (except water) for at least an hour prior to the test.