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Respirator Face Fit Testing

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Test4Fit Ltd

Test4Fit launched as a new provider of respiratory face fit testing in 2020.  Although the company is new to the market the founder has been involved in this industry for over ten years and has a wealth of fit testing experience and is a Fit2Fit accrediated fit test provider

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Face Fit Testing

required for all tight fitting face-pieces


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Half Face Disposable Respirators


Half Face Reusable Respirators


Full Face Respirators



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What is face fit testing?

Fit Testing is a method for checking that a tight fitting face-piece is compatible with an individual’s facial features and can form an adequate seal to the wearer’s face in order to provide the required respiratory protection necessary for the work place.

Why do I need to have my staff face fit tested?

HSE RPE guidance require employers to take appropriate steps to ensure the selected RPE is adequate and suitable for their employees.  The RPE must be of the right size and correctly fit the wearer to provide the required respiratory protection. For tight-fitting facepieces the initial selection should include a fit test.  Facepiece fit testing is a method of checking that a tight-fitting facepiece matches the wearer’s facial features and seals adequately to their face. It will also help to identify unsuitable facepieces that should not be used.

What is the difference between qualitative and quantitative fit testing?

The Quantitative (PortaCount) method can be used to fit test all types of tight-fitting masks including disposable, half and full face masks. The Quantitative fit testing method is the Ambient Particle Counting method which measures the ratio of particles inside and outside the face-piece and provides a numerical result called a Fit Factor.

Qualitative tests rely on the wearer’s taste response to detect faceseal leakage of a test agent (Bitter or Sweet). The Qualitative method can only be employed for fit testing of filtering facepieces (disposable masks) and half masks, not full face masks. This method involves a ‘Sensitivity Test’ and ‘Fit Test’ step which must both be conducted with the same test agent. 

Where can advice on RPE and fit testing be found?

General advice on selection of RPE is covered in the HSE guidance document Respiratory protective equipment at work: A practical guide (HSG53). Guidance on Fit testing of RPE can be found in HSE INDG 479 and the supporting Fit2Fit Companion series. Test4Fit can help and discuss RPE requirements for your organisation.

Can face fit testing be carried out if the wearer has facial hair

Fit testing should not be conducted if there is any hair growth between the wearer’s skin and the face-piece sealing surface, such as stubble beard growth, beard, moustache, sideburns or low hairline, which cross the respirator sealing surface. This not only applies on the day of testing but on every occasion RPE is worn to provide protection to the respiratory system.  If required alternative loose fitting RPE can be selected for use for employees with facial hair.  Loose-fitting facepieces rely on enough clean air

What are the legal requirements for Fit Testing?

COSHH Regulations reg.7(1), CLAW Regulations reg.6(1), CAW Regulations reg.10(1)(a) place the duty on the employer to prevent the exposure of their employees to hazardous substances; where prevention of exposure is not reasonably practicable, the employer must reduce it to the lowest concentration reasonably practicable by means other than the use of RPE.
If, despite the use of suitable control measures (i.e. other than RPE) adequate control of exposure cannot be achieved, employers must provide suitable RPE (COSHH Regulations reg.7(3)(c), CLAW Regulations reg.6(3)(c), CAW Regulations reg.10(4)). The RPE provided must reduce the exposure to a concentration that is as low as reasonably practicable, and in any case below any applicable exposure or control limits.
The ACOPS 1, 2, 3, 4 supporting the COSHH, CLAW and CAW Regulations recommend that the initial selection of tight fitting facepieces should include a fit test. This is to ensure that the selected RPE has the potential to provide adequate protection for the wearer (L5 para 148, L27 para 79, L28 para 81 and L132 para 133). The circumstances where repeat fit testing is needed are referred to in L5 para 149, L27 para 80, L28 para 82 and L132 para 134.
The employer must have documented evidence of the characteristics of the RPE to be used (CAW reg.7(3)(d)). Similar requirements are described in COSHH reg.6(4), and CLAW reg.5(4). These requirements are there to ensure that the RPE provided is suitable. The evidence to support the suitability will include fit test reports for facepieces with tight-fitting face seals. Fit test records should be retained by the employer and must be kept available for inspection on request.

Is a pre-use fit check the same as the facepiece fit test?

No. A pre-use Fit Check is conducted by the wearer every time the facepiece is donned, before entering the hazardous environment. This fit check is used to check whether the facepiece has been correctly donned before a contaminated work area is entered.

KN95 Safety Alert

A substantial number of face masks, claiming to be of KN95 standards, provide an inadequate level of protection and are likely to be poor quality products accompanied by fake or fraudulent paperwork. These face masks may also be known as filtering facepiece respirators.

KN95 face mask

KN95 is a performance rating under the Chinese standard GB2626:2006, the requirements of which are broadly the same as the European standard BSEN149:2001+A1:2009 for FFP2 facemasks. However, there is no independent certification or assurance of their quality and products manufactured to KN95 rating are declared as compliant by the manufacturer. 

Personal protective equipment (PPE) cannot be sold or supplied as PPE unless it is CE marked. The only exception is for PPE that is organised by the UK Government for use by NHS or other healthcare workers where assessments have been undertaken by HSE as the Market Surveillance Authority. 

Action required

KN95 must not be used as PPE at work unless their supply has been agreed by HSE as the Market Surveillance Authority.

Masks that are not CE marked and cannot be shown to be compliant must be removed from supply immediately. If these masks have not been through the necessary safety assessments, their effectiveness in controlling risks to health cannot be assured for anyone buying or using them. They are unlikely to provide the protection expected or required.

For those that are CE marked, suppliers must be able to demonstrate how they know the documentation and CE marking is genuine, supported by Notified Body documentation showing compliance with the essential health and safety requirements as required by the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations (EU) 2016/425.

Relevant legal documents

  • Personal Protective Equipment Regulations (EU) 2016/425

  • Personal Protective Equipment (Enforcement) Regulations 2018

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Test4Fit Ltd
17 Old Dundonald Road,
Northern Ireland,
BT16 2EG

For more information call 07769238070

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