Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to provide a face fit test if I supply masks to my workers?

Yes, face fit testing is a legal requirement for anyone who wears a tight (or close) fitting mask for work.

The supporting guidance for COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health), CLaW (Control of Lead at Work), CAR (Control of Asbestos Regulations) and the Ionising Radiation Regulations, stipulate that fit testing should be carried out as part of the initial mask selection process.  

This ensures that inadequately fitting face pieces are not selected for use.

Where Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) is used, it must be able to provide adequate protection for individual wearers. RPE cannot protect the wearer if it leaks.

A major cause of leaks is poor fit – tight-fitting masks need to fit the wearer’s face to be effective.

As people come in all sorts of shapes and sizes it is unlikely that one particular type or size of RPE facemask will fit everyone. Fit testing will ensure that the equipment selected is suitable for the wearer

Face fit testing is required for all of the following types of masks:

  • Disposable half masks
  • Re-usable filter or cartridge half masks
  • Powered respirators
  • Full face filter or cartridge masks
  • Escape set masks
  • Full breathing apparatus masks

More information on face fit testing procedures is available here.


What type of mask should I supply for general dust?

FFP1 Dust Masks

FFP1 Dust Masks protect against low levels of dust, as well as solid and liquid aerosols. It protects against materials in concentrations up to 4x occupational exposure limit (OEL) or 4x assigned protection factor (APF). FFP1 Dust Masks are suitable for hand sanding, drilling, and cutting.

More information on mask selection and Respiratory Protective Equipment can be found here.

What mask and filter should I use for short duration work with asbestos?

Use suitable respiratory protective equipment (RPE) with a UK-assigned protection factor (APF) of 20 or more.

Suitable types of RPE:

  • Disposable respirator to standards EN 149 (type FFP3) or EN 1827 (type FMP3);
  • Half-mask respirator (to standard EN 140) with P3 filter;
  • Semi-disposable respirator (to EN 405) with P3 filter.

This equipment should be suitable for most short-duration non-licensed work.

Workers should select a make and size that fits them. This equipment is not suitable for people with beards or stubble – hooded respirators are required for these situations. The equipment is also unsuitable for long periods of continuous use; you need power-assisted equipment for such situations.

More information about HSE em6 asbestos essentials is available here.


BESA members have access to a free dedicated health and safety helpline. For all of your health and safety questions contact one of our BESA representatives on 01768 860452.