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Face Fit Testing

So, who needs to be tested?

If you wear a mask at work that relies on making a good seal with your face then you need a Face Fit Test. Now more than ever, the wearing of face masks in the workplace is becoming a requirement. Morally we have a duty of care to ensure that workers go home safe and are not exposed to airborne hazards during their work. Legally, face fit testing is a requirement of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations, the Control of Lead at Work Regulations and the Control of Asbestos Regulations. These regulations state that PPE must be “suitable” for its purpose - in this case it should protect the wearer from the airborne hazard.

How we test

All wearers of tight fitting or close fitting face pieces require a face fit test for each mask that they wear. The following are all defined as ‘close fitting’: full breathing apparatus masks (including positive pressure), escape set masks, powered respirators, re-usable half masks and disposable half masks.A face fit test is a simple 20 minute test. There are two types of test, qualitative and quantitative. See our other information sheets for further details on which masks can be tested by which methods and also what these tests involve. Ideally face fit testing should be carried out at mask selection stage, so employers can ensure the correct mask models and sizes can be purchased. Repeat face fit testing should also be carried out on a regular basis (typically every one, two or three years depending on risk) or if the wearer loses or gains weight, has significant dental work, or gains scars, moles or other facial features where the mask seal meets the face.

Qualitative Testing

  • Used only for disposable and half face masks.
  • The individual wears a hood over the head and shoulders and the tester sprays a bitter solution into the hood.
  • The wearer carries out a series of exercises, such as turning the head from side to side.
  • If the individual can taste the solution, there is a break in the mask’s seal.