Face fit testing is something that has to happen in certain industries. However, there are a lot of people who work in these industries that do not know much about face fit testing. It is important that you know what this is, who needs to have it done and the benefits of the test.
What Is Face Fit Testing?
As the name suggests, face fit testing is the testing of marks to ensure that they fit the face of the wearer. This testing will have to be carried out on all respiratory protection equipment or RPEs. This is based on the UK legislation passed in 2002 which requires all RPEs to be tested.
The reason for the legislation was research which found that 50% of RPE used did not provide the right protection because it did not correctly fit the wearer. This is due to the fact that faces come in different shapes and sizes. The RPE that suits one person will not always provide adequate protection to someone else.
The face fit test will only take 20 minutes to complete. There are 2 types of testing that will need to be completed and they are the qualitative and quantitative testing. These tests should be completed at the mask selection stage and will have to be done on a regular basis. It is recommended that aa face fit test is carried out every 1 to 3 years depending on the risks. Testing will also need to be done if the mask wearer gains or loses weight, has significant dental work or has any other changes to their facial structure.
Qualitative testing will generally be carried out on half face masks and disposable masks. The wearer will have to carry out a series of exercises to ensure that the mask fits correctly. This is a taste test where a substance is released and the wearer will have to determine if they can smell or taste it.
Quantitative testing will be done for all tight-fitting respirators as well as full face masks. The mask will be attached to a particle count machine which detects whether airborne particles are passing through the mask via a broken seal. The machine will provide the pass or fail reading.
Who Needs Face Fit Testing?
Understanding more about face fit testing is important, but you also need to know how has to have this done. All people in the UK who have to wear a tight-fitting facepiece will need to have it tested. This will include all people who work in industries that require masks to be worn regularly. Employees who may have to wear a specific mask in an emergency will also need to have this testing done.
The Reasons For The Testing
There are many reasons why this testing has to be done. The primary reason is that it is required by law. Legally, all people who need to wear RPE will need a certificate that proves the mask offers adequate levels of protection. The regulations such as the COSHH, CLaW and CAR all state that the test needs to be done when the mask is selected.
Another reason for this testing is the safeguard it provides for the health of the wearer. The testing ensures that people are protected from hazardous materials which can cause serious medical side effects. Proper fitting of the mask can reduce the risks of inhaling asbestos which causes lung cancer. Without the correct tests being done, you cannot be sure that the mask you have will offer the protection that you need.
Who Should Complete The Tests?
Face fit tests will need to be carried out by accredited professionals. Only these professionals will have the correct equipment for testing and be able to provide advice on selecting the correct mask for your facial structure. At the end of the testing, the accredited professional will be able to provide you with a certificate that is required by law. This will show that your mask has been tested and passed as well as the date of the last test.
Face fit testing is something that all people who wear RPE will need to have done. This testing ensures that the right level of protection is provided to the wearer.