All you need to know about Face Fit Testing...

Posted By Stephanie Hancox on 2018-01-03 12:08

As an employer, you should be aware how RPE is to be used as the last line of defence against hazards to your employees in the workplace and not as an alternative to finding solutions to possible hazards. However, it is also of high importance to ensure face masks fit correctly to ensure they are providing the expected protection. 

It is advised to ensure that no factors can interfere with the face mask providing ultimate protection. Factors including hair growth (beard/moustache and/or even stubble) along with piercings etc. 

When should a face fit test be carried out?

It is recommended that a face fit test is carried out as part of the selection process when purchasing RPE (Respiratory Protective Equipment). A face fit test is also recommended if the wearer:...                                                                         

  1. is already using a face mask that hasn't been tested previously. 
  2. loses or gains weight.
  3. Has any significant facial changes especially around the face seal area. This can include changes such as moles and/or scars. 

How is the Face Fit test carried out? 

At Healthscreen UK, we use the Qualitative method to test the protection of half masks and/or filter pieces against hazardous pollutants in the work environment. Prior to the face fit test being carried out, the wearer is advised to avoid eating, drinking, chewing gum for at least 15 mins before the test starts, and avoids smoking for a minimum of 60 minutes before the test. Furthermore, prior to the start of the test, the occupational health professional will inspect the face mask/s for any visible signs of not offering significant protection. This will include an examination of in particular the face seal, facepiece connectors, the valves and the head strap/harness.

After the wearer has placed the face mask on and worn the mask for 5 minutes, to ensure the correct fit of the mask as any adjustments can be made to ensure adequate results. The test can begin. 

The wearer will be asked to wear a "hood" over their respirator during the test which is compiled of a series of exercises. During a Qualitative test, an aerosol is used to spray a solution; If the wearer tastes or smells this solution during the test then the face fit test is failed and new RPE is required. 

So what are the exercises required? 

Depending on the results of the face fit test, a report will be compiled and will clearly state the following if applicable: ...                                                                                                                                                                                              1) The wearers birth name.                                  2) The make, model material and the size of the RPE.                          3) Who owns the facepiece (The company, individual or if its a test facepiece.                                                                  4) Which exercises were used.                             5) What type of test was used.                                                                  6) Whether each individual exercise was a pass or fail along with the pass rate.                                                              7) The date the test was carried out.                  8) The Occupational Health Professionals details.                                9) Results from the visual examination.          10) Repeat tests if they were required and how many.                         11) Details of the equipment that was used during the face fit test. 

Further Notes: 

 - It is to be noted that the face-fit test does not replace maintenance of the face pieces and is to be used purely as a way to acknowledge whether or not the facepiece fits the wearer correctly.                                                          - If the employee is unable to pass the face-fit test, it is advised to research into additional RPE from differing manufactures, make and models or even RPE which don't require a tight seal around the face such as a hood type respirator.  



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