Do I need a face fit test? Well, if you wear a “dust mask” AKA close fitting respiratory protective equipment (RPE) then simply put, yes, you need a face fit test!
According to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) data, there are approximately 12,000 UK deaths associated with work related respiratory diseases each year; many of these preventable if correctly specified RPE was provided, worn & fit tested.
Is it a legal / mandatory requirement to have a face fit test? Again the short answer is yes. The CoSHH Regulatiuons 2002, PPE regulations 1992 (as amended 2002), supported by HSG53 and INDG479 (formerly OC282/28) details that close fitting RPE such as disposable or reusable “dust masks” must be both adequate and suitable; the only accepted method to demonstrate that RPE is suitable is to undertake a face fit test.
What is a face fit test? There are two common methods of undertaking a face fit test, the “Qualitative method” and the “Quantitative” method. The Qualitative method, also recognised as the “taste test” is ideally suited to both reusable and disposable half face RPE offering particulate protection. The “Taste Test” is a quick, simple and cost effective means of demonstrating that RPE creates an effective seal to the wearers face.
What type of mask needs face fit testing? The answer is ANY close-fitting respirator, this could be a filtering face piece aka a “dust mask” such as FFP3 or a reusable half or full face respirator. If a risk assessment identifies the need for close fitting RPE then a fit test should be undertaken. The COSHH, CAR and PPE Regulations all specify the need for suitable and adequate RPE, currently the only way of demonstrating that RPE is suitable is to undertake a “face fit test”.
Must I be clean shaven to have a face fit test? Yes; any stubble, facial hair, beards, goatees or moustaches that contact the face seal area will significantly reduce the protection offered by tight fitting RPE. It is therefore essential that RPE wearers are not only clean shaven for the test, but also when the mask is put into use.
Who can undertake a Face fit test? “A competent person” should undertake a face fit test. INDG479 stipulates 14 distinct criteria that a competent person should be trained, knowledgeable and experienced within. The British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) supported by HSE, recognises that selecting a “fit2fit” accredited face fit tester is one way that competence can be demonstrated. We can also train you how to fit test, information can be found below.
A list of competent, fit2fit approved testers and a host of other resources can be found here www.fit2fit.org.