What is face fit testing?
Face Fit Testing is a method for checking that a respirator facepiece provides an adequate seal to an individual’s facial features. The test ensures that potentially harmful substances such as dusts, fumes or mists won’t enter the seal of the fast mask while the user is wearing it.
Qualitative Face Fit Testing
Qualitative face fit testing (QLFT) is one of the most popular methods of face fit testing. This method can be used for disposable and reusable half masks.
Qualitative face fit testing will test the seal to make sure no particles can get inside the mask while it is being worn. A competent face fits trainer will spray a sweet or bitter solution into a hood which the delegate will wear over their head and shoulders. If the mask fits around their face, they shouldn’t be able to taste this solution. However if the mask doesn’t fit and the delegate can taste the solution, then it means an appropriate seal has not been achieved and subsequently, contaminants may get into the delegate’s respiratory system.
Quantitative Face Fit Testing
Quantitative face fit testing (QNFT) uses machines to record the number of particles that could be passing through the seal of the face mask. This method can be used with full face and half-mask respirators. Quantitative testing establishes a numerical value to the effectiveness of the mask, telling the user the effectiveness of the mask and whether it would be suitable to wear as respiratory protective equipment.
Why do you need face fit testing?
Face fit testing is carried out to ensure that individuals have a properly fitting mask as respiratory protection which fits on the face, and doesn’t let in any dusts, fumes or mists which would make wearing the mask useless. Anybody who will be using respiratory protective equipment should have face fit testing to ensure they wear the correct size mask and it is sealed to help stop harmful substances possibly getting in and become inhaled by the individual.
Where respiratory protective equipment such as full and half-face respirators are used, they must be able to provide sufficient protection for the wearer. Respiratory protection can’t protect the wearer if it leaks and lets in harmful substances like dusts, fumes and mists. As people come in all shapes and sizes, it is unlikely that one particular type or size of RPE facepiece will fit everyone. Fit testing will ensure that the equipment selected is suitable for the wearer. Face Fit Testing will also keep you compliant with the current COSHH 2002 Regulations for all respirator facepieces.
How often do you need face fit testing?
Face fit testing should be carried out regularly, or if the delegates facial area undergoes a dramatic change which could affect the fit of RPE on the user, such as:
- The delegate has had significant dental work done since the last face fit testing.
- The delegate develops drastic changes in their face shape.
- Some companies have a policy of retesting on a regular basis, dependant on the risk.
- The delegates weight increases or decreases drastically.
Is face fit testing a legal requirement?
Yes, face fit testing is a legal requirement if you are putting employees into potentially dangerous situations equipped with masks. Legislation such as COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) requires face fit testing to be carried out as part of the initial mask selection process. This is to make sure everybody who will be going into a potentially dangerous situation and requires RPE will wear a mask that fits and will protect them against harmful substances.
Which face masks require testing?
Most face masks will be legally required for face fit testing if they are to be used under potentially dangerous situations.
- Half masks
- Full face masks
- Powered respirators
- Escape set masks
- Full breathing apparatus masks
- Disposable masks
Who can perform face fit testing?
Face fit testing, both qualitative and quantitative, must be carried out by a competent person.
Manufacturers of fit test equipment may also provide competency training and evaluation. Proof of these may be sufficient to prove competency.
Qualitative Face Fit Testing
The qualitative face fit testing course is designed for anyone who will be wearing a respirator while working in an environment where there is a risk of inhaling dust or other dangerous particles.