Last Updated on October 28, 2020 by Kirsty Smithson
When might you need to have a face fit test?
Well, you will need to wear a protective face mask/respirator if you are a healthcare worker looking after patients with coronavirus/covid-19, or if you work in another industry where you are required to wear a respirator to protect against inhalation of hazardous dust or particles like asbestos.
In either case, and whether you’re wearing a disposable FFP3 mask or a reusable half face mask, it’s absolutely essential that your face mask/RPE provides you with adequate protection and forms a tight seal against your face.
Therefore, a face fit test must be carried out prior to wearing it to ensure maximum protection from airbourne virus droplets, hazardous dust or fibres.
If a face fit test isn’t carried out properly, then the face mask can’t protect you if it leaks.
Research has indicated that a significant amount of the RPE in use doesn’t offer the wearer the required level of protection because it simply doesn’t fit correctly.
Only a trained and competent person can carry out face fit testing for RPE, as outlined in the COSHH regulations.
They must be suitably qualified to perform a face fit test and have relevant experience.
If you need a competent face fit tester, please contact us in the first instance as we have a trained and accredited face fit tester for testing in the Greater Manchester area, or feel free to have a look on The British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) website for a full list of testers in all areas of the UK.
There you will find details of face fit testers in your local area.
A face fit test should be done right at the start when selecting a respirator/face mask.
The face mask/respirator needs to be tight fitting against the face of the wearer so that it doesn’t leak.
Everybody has a different shape and size of face, so the face mask will need adjusting to suit the individual wearer.
It isn’t simply a case of one size fits all!
This is why carrying out a face fit test prior to using the selected RPE/face mask is essential for the wearer’s safety.
It’s important that once you’ve tried a selection on and found the best fit for you that you wear exactly the same mask on the job!
This means the same make, model, type and size that you had a face fit for.
If you wear more than one piece of RPE, then fit testing should be performed for each face piece.
Facial hair is a problem when it comes to performing a face fit test.
The face mask/respirator needs to have a good seal against the face in order to prevent any leaks.
A beard or facial hair will prevent a good seal and mean there are gaps around the face piece.
If there are gaps, then it means the dirty or contaminated air being breathed in will not go directly to the air filter, meaning you will breathe it into your lungs instead.
So it’s essential that you make sure the mask fits correctly with no gaps each time you wear it.
Being clean shaven will ensure a good seal to the face when wearing tight fitting masks, thus preventing any leaks or breathing in of contaminated air.
Some people, for religious or other reasons, cannot get rid of their facial hair and will need alternative forms of RPE.
If you would like any further advice on face fit testing from our in-house fit-2-fit accredited fit tester, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we’ll gladly assist you. We provide face fit testing as a service if you require a face fit test. We also provide a ‘Face fit train the tester course‘ for those people who may need to perform Qualitative face fit testing on RPE correctly, either in-house for their own staff and/or for other organisations.
Give our office a call on 0161 761 4424 to arrange a face fit test or to enquire about ‘face fit train the tester’ training. You can also email us at email@example.com
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