A face fit test is a simple test which checks whether a person’s mask fits their face shape and size.
When worn correctly RPE (respiratory protective equipment) should protect the wearer from airborne hazards (particulates, dusts, gases etc). Recent research has shown that around 50% of RPE used does not offer the wearer the level of protection assumed. The major reason for this is that it simply does not fit!
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. A face fit test will help ensure that the RPE selected is suitable for the wearer.
- Morally we have a duty to ensure that workers go home safe and are not exposed to airborne hazards during their work.
- Legally, face fit testing is a requirement of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations, the Control of Lead at Work Regulations and the Control of Asbestos Regulations. These regulations state that PPE must be “suitable” for its purpose – in this case it should protect the wearer from the airborne hazard.
All wearers of tight fitting or close fitting facepieces require a face fit test for each mask that they wear. The following are all defined as ‘close fitting’, full breathing apparatus masks (including positive pressure), escape set masks, powered respirators, re-usable half masks and disposable half masks.
A face fit test is a simple 20 minute test. There are two types of test, qualitative and quantitative. See our other information sheets for further details on which masks can be tested by which methods and also what these tests involve.
Ideally face fit testing should be carried out at mask selection stage, so employers can ensure the correct mask models and sizes can be purchased. Repeat face fit testing should also be carried out on a regular basis (typically every three years) or if the wearer loses or gains weight, has major dental surgery, or gains scars, moles or other facial features where the mask seal meets the face.
It may be appropriate for wearers using close fitting masks for protection against asbestos to be re-tested annually.
CSTS provides a Fit2Fit accredited face fit test service for clients throughout the UK either at clients’ premises or their own training centres.