Estimates suggest that thousands die each year as a result of exposure at some point in their working lives to hazardous substances; asbestos being a prime example. A high percentage of this annual loss could be averted by the correct selection and use of Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE). Individual Face Fit Testing is now a required part of that process.
"If you wear or provide tight-fitting Respiratory Protective Equipment as a control measure, then each individual required to wear Respiratory Protection Equipment(RPE) must be fit-tested on the chosen respirator, specific to the manufacturer, model and size (if applicable)" (Ref HSE 282.28 now replaced by INDG 479). "Recent research suggests that up to 50% of all RPE used does not offer the wearer the level of protection assumed and one of the major reasons is that it simply does not fit" (Ref fit2fit). With this in mind we aim to support our clients through Qualitative or Quantitative Fit Testing to ensure the workforce are adequately protected and are correctly using the chosen Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE). It is no longer sufficient to just provide an employee with a respirator, it is the employer's responsibility to ensure the chosen respirator/mask has the potential to adequately seal to the wearer's face. You can provide your workforce with the best respirators, if the chosen RPE doesn't fit the individuals face the respirator may not sufficiently filter the hazard you are protecting against.
A "tight fitting" respirator is one which depends on the ability of the respirator to form a seal with the user's face. This includes Filtering Face Pieces (Disposables) Half Masks and Full Face Pieces, including those used with SCBA. Exceptions to this are air-fed hoods, visors and helmets which do not require a seal to be formed.
A "tight fitting" respirator is one which depends on the ability of the respirator to form a seal with the user's face. This includes Filtering Face Pieces (Disposables) Half Masks and Full Face Pieces, including those used with SCBA. Exceptions to this are air-fed hoods, visors and helmets which do not require a seal to be formed.
“It is good practice to have a system in place to ensure repeat Fit Testing of RPE is carried out on a regular basis ("fit2fit recommend every two years). This is especially important when Respiraory Protective Equipment (RPE) is used frequently as a primary means of exposure control, e.g. annual testing for workers involved in licensed asbestos removal” (ref HSE 282/28 now INDG 479) and please bear in mind HSE documents (such as CAR, IRR and Confined Spaces) have their own stipulations as to the frequency of Face Fit Testing.
The legislation requires that there should be no “facial hair” interfering with the face seal, thus some moustaches and goatee beards may be OK. Stubble can be sufficiently strong to hold a respirator off the wearer's face to allow the kind of particles that can be hazardous to health into the wearer's breathing zone. It also changes by the hour/day. It is therefore a requirement that candidates should be clean shaven for the Fit Test as there is no ambiguity in the results. Furthermore many companies are now adopting a clause stipulating that employees, required to wear RPE as part of their job, should be clean shaven. If you are unable to be clean-shaven, please see our shop for suitable alternatives.
Please note as of April 2019 HSE 282/28 has been replaced by HSE INDG 479 .
It is advisable that anyone conducting Face Fit Testing should be “competent” and whilst Fit2Fit Accreditation is not compulsory it is designed to offer a degree of assurance that the Fit2Fit accredited Fit Tester has undergone an assessment by his peers and has a level of experience/knowledge in the subject.
It can be very confusing when others call the same process something different or abbreviate, commonly used phrases are:
• Fit test
• Face fit
• Mask test
• Fit testing
• Respirator fit test
• Respirator testing
• Qualitative fit test
• Quantitative fit test
• Portacount test
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