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Face fit testing ensures that the respirator fits correctly and therefore protects the wearer from various hazards. All respiratory equipment must be proved adequate and fit for purpose in that it is suitable for the wearer, task and the environment.

If wearing a positive pressure breathing apparatus, research has shown that during heavy exertion, it is possible for the pressure inside the facepiece to momentarily become negative in relation to the outside atmosphere. If the face seal is not good, this could result in advertadly inhaling toxic air. At First Intervention Team we are on hand to make sure that your Face Fit Test is done correctly and the equipment is fit for purpose in line with legislation. Our Face Fit test has been accredited by Fit2Fit and makes sure your business is compliant.

Face fit testing

What is Face Fit Testing?

Face Fit Testing is a method for checking that a tight-fitting face piece matches the person’s facial features and seals adequately to the wearer’s face. It will also help to identify unsuitable face pieces which should not be used.

There are two methods of face fit testing: Quantitative and Qualitative.

Quantitative Face Fit Testing

Quantitative face fit testing can give an objective assessment of Facial Fit and provides a direct numerical result called a Fit Factor. The Portacount measures the number of ambient particles inside and outside a Facepiece and proves a numeric result which is a ratio of the two over a given period.

The mask is attached to the Portacount and the user completes a variety of exercises whilst stepping on an Aerobics step. If the user successfully achieves a pass on each exercise at the end of the test a Face Fit test report/certificate is produced.

Qualitative Face Fit Testing

Qualitative face fit testing relies on a wearers’ subjective assessment of Facial leakage. The method uses a nebuliser of a bitter or sweet-tasting substance to challenge the mask’s seal throughout a series of tests. The user will put on the RPE and secure it in position, then the hood will be fitted over their head and once in place, the bitter or sweet substance will be sprayed into the head throughout the various exercises.

If the substance is not tasted then the face fit test has been successful, if it is tasted the RPE will be adjusted and the test repeated. Qualitative face fit testing can only be carried out on half masks and disposable masks.

What is FIT2FIT?

Face Fit testing should be conducted by a competent person. Competence can be demonstrated by accreditation under the Fit2Fit RPE Fit Test Providers Accreditation Scheme. This scheme has been developed by the BSIF, together with industry stakeholders, and is supported by HSE.

Can I wear a mask with facial hair?

As stated in the ACOP for COSHH when wearing tight-fitting RPE the wearer must be clean-shaven in the area of the seal. Facial hair/stubble can allow enough space for contaminated air to fit through the seal and therefore allowing the wearer to inhale it. For customers that do not wish to be clean-shaven or cannot shave for medical and religious reasons, alternative forms of RPE are available upon request.

HSE research shows that protection is significantly reduced after 24hrs from clean-shaven. More information can be found at:

First Intervention Team (FIT) is a proud supporter of the Mavis Nye Foundation.

  • Which masks require face fit testing?
  • Filtering Face Pieces (FFPs)
  • Re-usable filter or cartridge half masks
  • Full face filter or cartridge masks
  • Escape set masks
  • SCBA masks
  • PAPR with Tight Fitting Masks

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