Face Fit Testing
Respiratory protective equipment can only fulfill its function if it fits facial featured of the operatives working with hazardous substances. Our industrial hygienist will undertake the appropriate face fit testing on your operatives using respiratory protection to control exposure to workplace contaminants.
The evaluation of each employee will take approximately 20 minutes, during which the wearer will breathe through their mouth while carrying out a number of tasks. Should the face fit test indicate a failure we will provide your employees with suitable alternative RPE.
The objectives of the face fit testing are to ensure that the provided respiratory protection performs adequately and provides sufficient protection to employees. The result of the face fit test will be provided in a form of certificate for each operative and each type/model of respiratory protection.
- Where Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) is used, it must be able to provide adequate protection for individual wearers.
- RPE can’t protect the wearer if it leaks and a major cause of leaks is poor fit.
- The COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) Regulations include a requirement that the initial selection process for all tight-fitting face pieces should include face-fit testing to ensure the wearer has a correctly fitting device.
- As people come in all sorts of shapes and sizes it is unlikely that one type or size of RPE face piece will fit everyone.
- With Face Fit testing, this will ensure that the equipment selected is suitable for the wearer and full protection is given.
The best time to do fit testing is at the initial selection stage, when individual users can be given a choice of adequate models of RPE. You should ensure that the make, model, type and size of face piece that they wore when they had their successful fit test is made available for their use. If an employee wears more than one type of tight-fitting face piece, then each type of face piece should be fit tested.
There are two different ways in which FFT can be carried out, this includes;
- The qualitative test;
- This can only be carried out on disposable and half masks.
- The test takes around 20 minutes and involves wearing a hood over the head and shoulders.
- The tester sprays a bitter tasting solution into the hood whilst the delegate carries out a series of exercises, i.e. turning head from side to side.
- If the wearer can taste the solution, then the mask does not fit correctly.
- The quantitative test;
- This can be carried out on any type of mask.
- The most common method for doing this test involves attaching the mask to a machine, which can detect whether airborne particles are passing into the mask through the seal.
- The test takes around 20 minutes and at the end of the test the machine gives a ‘pass’ or ‘fail’.
The test should be carried out regularly, but more so if the wearer is working in a high-risk environment or if they gain/lose weight or develops facial changes.
Many masks rely on a good seal against the face so that, when you breathe air in, it is drawn into the filter material where the air is cleaned. If there are any gaps around the edges of the mask, ‘dirty’ air will pass through these gaps and into your lungs. It is therefore very important that you put your mask on correctly and check for a good fit every time.
Due to this facial hair, stubble and beards make it impossible to get a good seal of the mask to the face therefore the wearer must be clean-shaven when wearing tight-fitting masks.