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Face Fit Testing for RPE Equipment

Face Fit Testing for RPE Equipment

For many businesses the use of Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) plays a major role in the safety of their employees. Ensuring that the equipment fits correctly is a key part of the process and to do this it is important that suitable face fit testing is undertaken by a competent person, this includes accredited Fit2Fit Face Fit Testers or a manufacturer’s fit test equipment.

Why is it Important to Wear a Mask?

Under the COSHH regulations (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) employers in industries where staff are exposed to substances such as chemicals, dust, fumes and gases are required to identify and assess the risk of these substances and how they can be controlled or protected against.  The use of RPE in such circumstances is part of the way the risks of working with such substances can be mitigated.

What are the Causes of Face Masks Leaking?

The most common reason for leaks is where they have not been fitted correctly. This can be for many reasons such as:

Facial hair (beards and stubble) means that the mask will not seal properly.

The wearer has gained or lost significant weight since the mask was fitted.

The wearer has developed facial changes (i.e. scars, broken bones) that have altered their face shape.

The wearer has undergone significant dental treatment.

The make, model or size of the RPE has been changed.

Face-fit checks haven't been taken often enough.

What’s Involved in Face-fit Testing and When Should you Complete it?

Many organisations fall-short by not completing tests frequently enough or taking into consideration various circumstances. We recommend a Face Fit Test is conducted under all of the following situations:

New employee

Any one joins the company or moves to a department that requires RPE then a test should be taken before using the kit.

Model or supplier change

If your RPE has changed model or supplier then a new test should be carried out for all users.

Any individual change occurs

If any of the above common causes of leaks occur to any employee a new test should be completed.

The test involves the wearer having their mask on and then a special hood is put over the person’s head to form a chamber-like space. Then a solution that can be tasted is put into the hood using a nebuliser.

If the test subject tastes the solution at any point, it indicates that the mask has a leak and has therefore failed the test. Adjustments can then be carried out and the test re-done.

When a tight-fitting mask is used in the workplace the wearer will be busy moving around. The Face Fit Test tries to emulate this to check and ensure that the mask does not leak when the wearer moves.

The test therefore assesses the impact of the subject:

– turning their head from side to side
– moving their head up and down
– and talking 

How Sureteam can Help

Outsourcing Face Fit Testing to an experienced team of Health and Safety consultants will not only ensure you are looking after your employees but also keep your business safe from a legal stand point.

If you are new to using RPE in the workplace and require further guidance and advice, give us a call on 01666 503686 for a no obligation chat.

Give us a call

Our team are on hand for any advice you need on 01666 503686. With Sureteam by your side you know you will have your face fit testing covered.

Frequently Asked Questions

The law requires employers to prevent or control the exposure of employees and others to hazardous substances at work.

Other measures such as ventilation should also be controlled before using RPE where reasonably practical meaning RPE should be a last choice when working with hazardous substances such as gases, solvents, powered chemicals, mists and sprays or entering a confined space.

Other reasons you may use RPE can include:
– While you are arranging to install other control measures.
– For clearing up a spill.
– For maintenance.
– During temporary failure of a control measure at source, e.g. sudden failure of LEV.
– For cleaning, e.g. low pressure washing of a dusty shed.
– For short, one-off procedures.
– When needed in addition to other control measures for safe working.
Before using RPE, you must complete Risk Assessments to assess what other measures could be taken to control exposure. You could control exposure in other ways such as eliminating the hazardous substance, using a safer alternative substance or modifying the process to name a few.
People come in all sorts of shapes and sizes so it’s unlikely that a one size fits all approach would be suitable. For this reason, manufactures offer different size and shape facepieces and alterations can be made to suit the user to keep them as safe as possible with no leaks.

More Resources

Seeking further advice and support, why not take a look at our Resources section with toolbox talks, HSE publications and useful links or read our latest blog post for advice from our team

We see Sureteam as a key extension to our own internal health and safety team here at Squared. Sharing many of our own values, and acting as a “critical friend”, they add real value across all levels of the organisation.

Having taken the time to get to understand who we are and what specific risks we face, means that their advice and training is always practical and relevant. They are always accessible and happy to help support anyone within the organisation and through our ever-evolving relationship we have been able to build and maintain a safe and secure organisation for our teams, customers and wider community.”

Claire Bryan, Director of People Excellence, Squared

The training that we received from Sureteam was fantastic. Peter was informative, knowledgeable and made the training accessible and relevant to us. Peter related all the information to the context of our setting and used examples to highlight the important information that we needed as well and giving us advise about what we could improve and take forward following the training.

Lisa Hoult, Head of Youth Services, Tetbury Area Youth & Community Trust

Participant of Fire Safety Training

We receive a very professional service from Sureteam and have the knowledge of knowing we can contact them and will receive excellent expert advice. I would have no hesitation in recommending them as a company who always provide what they promise.

Risk Manager, North London Hospice

Sureteam really are the whole package when it comes to Health and Safety providers. As an in-house Health and Safety Manager the safety of my staff and customers is paramount at all times but with the additional support of Sureteam I have added piece of mind that I am supported fully.  Whether it is helping me to stay up to date with regulation changes, get a fresh set of eyes on our procedures or get additional, practical advice and support on new issues should they arise.  Over the years I have developed a fantastic, close working relationship with the entire team at Sureteam and look forward to that continuing for many years to come.

Gill Findlay, Installation QH+S Manager – Langley Design

Having worked with Sureteam since we started the business and been impressed by their expertise and professionalism, we knew that we wanted to partner with them for this larger project. Knowing that we could trust them absolutely to ensure our compliancy with the CDM Regulations and to deliver and provide high-quality health and safety advice, documents and training was so important to us, our sub-contractors and ultimately our client.

Our new two-tier contract system with Sureteam, really provides us with the flexibility and service that we require given the changeable nature of the projects we work on and helps ensure our budgets are spent wisely.  Knowing we have their support in this way means we can tender for larger projects with confidence.

Paul Aubrey, Director – Corella Ltd

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