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.
Our face fit test has been accredited by Fit2Fit and makes sure your business is compliant. We also hold a range of other relevant accreditations including ISO 45001, FIRAS, SafeContractor, Achilles UVDB Silver Plus. Our fit2fit program is overseen by Wayne Schmidt, an experienced RPE and gas detection technician.
Face fit testing is a process that involves checking the suitability and effectiveness of a face mask or respirator in protecting you, the wearer, against harmful airborne contaminants or gasses. During the test, you’ll put on the mask or respirator, and a specialized device measures the seal and fit of the mask on your face.
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.
Face fit testing is crucial as it ensures that the mask is effective in preventing the inhalation of harmful particles, gases, or vapors, which can cause short-term and/or long-term health problems. If the mask does not fit correctly, it won’t provide adequate protection, exposing you to hazardous substances.
Therefore, undergoing face fit testing is essential to ensure that the respiratory protective equipment being used is appropriate for your face shape and size and offers the intended protection against harmful substances in the air.
There are two methods of face fit testing: Quantitative and Qualitative.
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 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.
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. First Intervention Team are an accredited face fit test provider under the scheme.
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: http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrhtm/rr1052.htm
First Intervention Team (FIT) is a proud supporter of the Mavis Nye Foundation.
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