If the mask fits ...

Our Consultant Helen Collins takes a deep breath and explains the ins and outs of face fit testing.

An article first published back in 2007 - still relevant for today!


"Today's high-performance protective masks are ergonomically designed to be as effective and comfortable as possible. But each design is unique and there is still no single type that offers correct fitting for every face. Facial profiles are far too diverse for one size to fit all.

Without a proper fit, the performance of any tight-fitting facepiece is very likely to be compromised, so it is vital that equipment is matched to the wearer. Unfortunately, although there is a legal requirement to enforce this aspect, experience in the safety industry indicates that fit testing of respiratory protective equipment (RPE) is an area often neglected by employers, potentially exposing their workers to hazardous particulates, gases or vapours.

It's not enough to provide a facepiece and to maintain it in working order. You have to be sure it's suitable for the job, the working environment, the anticipated exposure level and, of course, the wearer. The latter part, making sure the equipment works for those using it, is where fit testing comes in."