Face Fit Testing
Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) only works when it is fitted correctly. Full or half face masks, and even disposable masks, are only effective when fitted properly.
Tight-fitting facepieces rely on the quality of fit to the wearer’s face, whether they are negative pressure respirators, power assisted respirators or used with compressed air supplied breathing apparatus.
What is face fit testing?
Face fit testing is a method used for checking whether a tight-fitting facepiece matches the facial features of the wearer, and seals adequately over their face. It also helps to discover when a facepiece is not appropriate for what it is being used for.
Why is face fit testing important?
Tight-fitting facepieces must achieve suitable contact between the wearer’s skin and the face seal of the facepiece. It is unlikely that one particular type or size of RPE facepiece will fit everybody because no person is likely to have the same facial construction. An inadequate fit of the face mask will significantly reduce the protection it provides. Any fault in protection will put the RPE wearer’s life in danger or may lead to immediate or long-term ill health implications.
Face fit testing is also useful for checking whether the wearer can apply a respirator face piece correctly to their face. Exact fitting of the facepiece is a crucial action and must be considered as a necessity in order to prevent exposure.
How often should face fit testing be carried out?
A face fit test should be carried out as part of the initial RPE selection, or when an un-tested facepiece is already in use.
Face shape can change – a user might lose or gain weight, undergo dental work or develop skin changes around the face-seal area. These are all reasons to repeat a face fit test.
How we can help
Our experienced health and safety advisors can perform face fit tests for your organisation. We can also issue certificates to demonstrate the suitability of your RPE. We can visit your offices or site to conduct face fit testing. We often conduct face fit testing as part of a wider site inspection.