Is Face Fit Testing A Legal Requirement?

12th July 2019

You may have heard about Face Fit testing, know about the general idea and principles behind the process but are unsure whether or not it’s something you need to consider implementing in your business. Ultimately, whether or not you require Face Fit testing as a service depends on the nature of your business, the conditions you operate it and the equipment your employees use. But if your business is putting employees in potentially dangerous environments it will most likely be a legal requirement to provide face fit testing. Make sure your employees are protected before they begin working in potentially hazardous environments by taking a look at the following advice and guidelines.

Risk Assessment

It is a legal requirement to undertake a full risk assessment regardless of the nature of your business. This is to ensure that you outline any hazards employees are facing in the workplace so that you can put the steps in place to reduce these risks to health and safety as far as possible.  For example, respiratory illnesses like asthma commonly occur when a warehouse is not properly ventilated, so to reduce the risk of occupational asthma you need to ensure enclosed spaces subject to dust and fumes are well ventilated and that employees are supplied with the correct RPE.

Other work activities could result in harmful substances contaminating the air through dust, mist, vapour, gas or fumes, which pose hazards to workers’ health. Another risk to consider is whether your employees are working in areas where oxygen levels are lower (or could become low), this is particularly an issue when working in confined spaces. HSE specifies that if you expose employees to hazards, you must reduce the risk as far as reasonably practicable, and this may mean the use of RPE (Respiratory Protective Equipment) in order to control this hazard.

Selecting RPE That Is Adequate And Suitable

By law, any supplied RPE is required to be both adequate and suitable. According to the HSE, this means :

  • Adequate – It is right for the hazard and reduces exposure to the level required to protect the wearer’s health.
  • Suitable – It is right for the wearer, task and environment, such that the wearer can work freely and without additional risks due to the RPE.

A major cause of leaks is poor fitting equipment, and without the proper fit, RPE becomes ineffective. Therefore, it is crucial that RPE is adequate and suitable to ensure the wearer is fully protected – this is a legal requirement. This is where it’s time to bring in an Occupational Health team, our team at David Barber are fully trained in Face Fit Testing by the HSE laboratories, so you can be confident you’re fully compliant.

What Types Of Masks Need To Be Tested?

  • Powered respirators
  • Full face masks
  • Escape set masks
  • Full breathing apparatus masks
  • Filtering facepieces (disposable masks)
  • Half masks

Record Keeping

An important part of the process is in the record-keeping of your RPE equipment. You should make sure you keep a detailed record which includes the mask make, the model and size of the mask tested. Always make sure these are kept fully up to date so that they are valid for inspection (if required).

So face fit testing is a legal requirement if your employees are working in potentially hazardous places, without it your employees are at risk of developing serious health issues that result in costly time off work. If you aren’t sure whether or not you need face fit testing or believe your employees are at risk contact our expert team today to ensure you are following legislation.

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