Face fit is a legal requirement and is covered by HSE legislation 282/28. Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) used must be able to provide adequate protection for individual wearers. RPE cannot protect the wearer if it leaks.
Alpha Training provide a Face Fit test service for clients throughout the UK, or from our Training Academy in West Sussex. We offer both quantitative and qualitative face fit testing in accordance with the HSE OC 282/28.
Wearers of close fitting face pieces must ensure that their mask fits their face securely. If not, harmful exposures such as dust, toxic gases and fumes could be inhaled through any gaps in the seal. It is important to have a correctly fitting mask for your personal facial profile. If an employee wears more than one type of RPE, then each type of RPE will need to be fit tested. Any personal respirators should be brought with you, this is inclusive of P1, 2 and 3 half masks as well as any protective head gear you may wear while using the RPE.
There are two types of face fit testing, qualitative and quantitative. Alpha Training provide both tests.
Qualitative testing is suitable for disposable and re-usable half masks.
The test is carried out in two stages:
The sensitivity test confirms if the wearer can detect the test agent (either smell or taste). The test agent is sprayed into a test hood so that the wearer’s sensitivity can be established.
The fit test requires the wearer to don their face mask and the test hood. The tester sprays the test agent into the hood at intervals whilst the wearer is carrying out a series of exercises designed to simulate movement expected in the workplace (e.g. moving head side to side, up and down, and talking out loud). If the wearer can taste or smell the test agent at any time this indicates a fail – the mask does not fit.
Whilst the test can be subjective, the likelihood of a wearer being able to hide their reaction to the very bitter test agent is low.
Quantitative testing is suitable for all masks.
There are several methods of quantitative testing, the most commonly used is ‘particle counting’ using a machine called a TSI Portacount. This counts the number of microscopic dust particles in the ambient air and compares this to the number of dust particles inside the mask. The machine is connected to the mask with a plastic sample tube. During the test the wearer carries out a series of exercises designed to simulate movement expected in the workplace (e.g. moving head side to side, up and down, and talking out loud). The machine detects particles leaking into the mask and at the end of the test indicates whether the test is a pass or fail.
Quantitative testing is not affected by a person’s sense of taste or smell and is not subjective.
(See important information below on facial hair).
Who needs Quantitative Face Fit Testing?
- Any person who wears a full-face self-contained respiratory mask or compressed air breathing apparatus
How much do the tests cost?
£49.95 +vat per test – Book on to one of our regular ‘open’ Face Fit days at our Training Academy in West Sussex.
If you are attending one of our Alpha Training Confined Space Training courses – for convenience, we can complete your Face Fit test during the duration of your course. Remember to add this option at the time of booking.
Full day group on-site booking (maximum of 15 tests per day):
£495.00 +vat (Excludes travel and accommodation costs)
Available for groups on-site anywhere in the UK.
Each test takes approximately 20 minutes to complete.
Further information on Face Fit Testing
Where RPE is used, it must be able to provide adequate protection for individual wearers. RPE can’t protect the wearer if it leaks. A major cause of leaks is poor fit – tight-fitting facepieces need to fit the wearer’s face to be effective.
As people come in all sorts of shapes and sizes it is unlikely that one particular type or size of RPE facepiece will fit everyone. Fit testing will ensure that the equipment selected is suitable for the wearer.
What you need to do
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 facepiece 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 facepiece, then each type of facepiece should be fit tested.
How to do it
RPE fit testing should be conducted by a competent person – you should take steps to ensure that person who carries out the fit test is appropriately trained, qualified and experienced, and is provided with appropriate information to undertake each particular task. The British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) has introduced a scheme for fit testers , which may provide evidence to help you decide whether a fit tester is competent.
A note on facial hair
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.
Facial hair, stubble and beards – make it impossible to get a good seal of the mask to the face.
If you are clean-shaven when wearing tight-fitting masks (ie those which rely on a good seal to the face), this will help prevent leakage of contaminated air around the edges of the mask and into your lungs. You will therefore be breathing in clean air, which will help you stay healthy. If there are good reasons for having a beard (eg for religious reasons), alternative forms of RPE, that do not rely on a tight fit to the face, are available.
For further information on Face Fit Testing, prices and availability – please call Alpha Training on 01903 871381.