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Monday, October 7, 2019
The short answer is no and it really is important to understand what real face fit testing is and the difference between the two. So, we have put together a guide to face fit testing for you below.
Face fit testing is a process for anyone who works in an environment where the use of respiratory protective equipment (RPE) is necessary to ensure that this equipment is properly fitted and achieving an adequate seal.
The HSE has an approved code of practice (ACOP) which states that tight-fitting Respiratory Protective Equipment must be tested with its intended user to ensure that the fit is adequate and Suitable.
There is a requirement for RPE to be suitable for the wearer, environment and task and for those wearing it to be suitably trained in its safe use.
In addition to the COSHH Regulations 2002, RPE need to be used to satisfy requirements in the following pieces of legislation.
You can use one of two face-fit testing methods – either Quantitative or Qualitative Methods– but whichever one you choose, they need to be carried out with the same exercises and conditions, with a competent person doing the face fit test.
The HSE strongly recommend using a Fit2Fit Accredited Provider, which can be found or checked on fit2fit.org
Face fit testing is required for all of the following Tight-Fitting types of masks; this means anything that relies on a seal to the skin:
Why is respirator fit important?
People working in hazardous environments need protection from airborne contaminants, which can cause serious physical ailments. When a tight-fitting respirator is used, the fit is critical to enable protection and comfort for the wearer. An inadequate seal between the respirator and the wearer’s face can result in contaminated air entering the mask and therefore being breathed in by the wearer.
The key points are:
During the Face Fit Test a series of 60-second exercises are carried out to determine if the mask fits correctly in this order:
The final, important point, to remember is that this is a requirement part of COSHH for any over 28-day mask (reusable half/Full Face/Loose Fitting) to perform a maintenance record.
The Regulation states that thorough tests should be carried out at least once a month if in regular use, or if the RPE is only used occasionally, the interval for documented maintenance should not exceed three months.
The guidance provides five key points that need to be followed when carrying out RPE maintenance:
The regulation makes it clear that employers must keep records of examination and testing, and any repairs made, for at least five years.
Key maintenance tasks include:
Who can complete face fit testing?
RPE fit testing should be conducted by a competent person - you should take steps to ensure that any person you engage as a fit tester is appropriately trained, qualified and experienced, and is provided with appropriate information to undertake each particular task.
The British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) has introduced a scheme for fit testers called Fit2Fit, which may provide evidence to help you decide whether a fit tester is competent.
A full list of all Accredited Fit2Fit Testers can be found, by following the link below https://www.fit2fit.org/
The list shows the location of the tester and the area they cover whilst also identifying the method of fit test they can conduct.
How often should I have a face fit test?
Under present UK legislation, re-testing of personnel is required only when significant changes to the face have occurred (e.g. scaring, moles, extensive dental work, extreme weight loss/gain) or if the size, make or model of the required RPE changes. However, data presented by the HSE suggests that re-testing should be performed in the UK more frequently.
Fit Checks are required each time the face piece is worn and before entering the hazardous environment. It is needed to determine if the face piece has been correctly fitted before a contaminated work area is entered.
A fit check involves checking the seal of the mask either Positive or negative pressure inside the mask. This is normally done by covering over the filter and:
Positive = Blowing gently and seeing if the mask leaks round the seal (FFPS and some reusable masks)
Negative = Breathing in for the mask to suck down to the face and should be held for 10 seconds (Reusable Masks).
This must be performed by the wearer EVERYTIME the mask is Donned (put on)
The test does not take into account the movements the wearer makes during their work or the effects of pressure inside the mask once working. Do not confuse this with a Face Fit Test
The wearer should carry out a Fit Check each time he or she wears their facemask, to ensure that it is being worn correctly.
The Fit Check should only be carried out on the make/model and size of facemask for which the wearer has already completed and passed an appropriate Fit Test.
Also part of the Pre-Checks to be completed by the wearer involves visually checking the various parts of the mask as recommended by the manufacturer to ensure it is still fit for purpose and has no damage that may reduce the protection it provides to the wearer.
Respirator pre user checks must include checks to ensure:
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