QUALITATIVE FACE FIT TESTING
Where RPE is used, it must be able to provide adequate protection for individual wearers.
Face fit is a legal requirement and is covered by HSE legislation 282/28. Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) used must be able to provide adequate protection for individual wearers. RPE cannot protect the wearer if it leaks.
A major cause of leaks is poor fit. Tight-fitting facepieces need to fit the wearer’s face to be effective.
As people come in all sorts of 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.
What you need to do?
The best time to do fit testing is at the initial selection stage, when individual users can be given a choice of adequate models of RPE. You should ensure that the make, model, type and size of facepiece that they wore when they had their successful fit test is made available for their use. If an employee wears more than one type of tight-fitting facepiece, then each type of facepiece should be fit tested.
What do we do?
We will either come to your place of work to carry out the testing or you can come to us. We will explain the test to each candidate and then show the candidate how to fit the mask correctly. We will ten place a hood over the candidate’s head and test their sensitivity to our testing solution. Once we have completed this, we will begin the test. There are 7 exercises that will be conducted with the hood on. They are;
Turning head side to side
Moving head up and down
Normal breathing Same as exercise 1
Once this complete, we will record all of the test information and will issue a certificate in the post to confirm Face Fit testing has been carried out.
A note on facial hair
Many masks rely on a good seal against the face so that, when you breathe air in, it is drawn into the filter material where the air is cleaned. If there are any gaps around the edges of the mask, ‘dirty’ air will pass through these gaps and into your lungs. It is therefore very important that you put your mask on correctly and check for a good fit every time.
Facial hair – stubble and beards – make it impossible to get a good seal of the mask to the face.
If you are clean-shaven when wearing tight-fitting masks (i.e. those which rely on a good seal to the face), this will help prevent leakage of contaminated air around the edges of the mask and into your lungs. You will therefore be breathing in clean air, which will help you stay healthy.
If there are good reasons for having a beard (e.g. for religious reasons), alternative forms of RPE, that do not rely on a tight fit to the face, are available.
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