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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 COVID-19 resources section with useful links and information or read our latest blog post for advice from our team

“As a business owner and Director, it is vitally important that we protect our people and our customers. The rigour and structure of our Health and Safety function gives us great confidence that we can operate in a safe manner. The advice and guidance from Sureteam means that we are proactive and have our staff trained to operate in a safe way.”

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