Fit Testing Face Masks for COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

19th June 2020

COVID-19 is a disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). We know that it is easily spread among people through respiratory droplets that are released when an infected individual coughs, talks, sneezes or breathes. These invisible respiratory droplets can then enter the mouth or nose of other people nearby.

For a lot of us, even if we try to social distance with friends and family, our job requires us to be in close contact with other people, which increases the risk of catching the virus significantly. A good protection method to avoid picking up the virus from infected individuals is with the use of respiratory protective equipment, or in simpler terms, a face mask. However, A face fit test should be carried out to ensure the respiratory protective equipment (RPE) can protect the wearer effectively.

What are the different types of face masks?

There are different types of face masks, the most familiar including surgical masks and filtered ‘dusk mask’ style face masks. When it comes to protecting yourself from respiratory droplets, the mask needs to be able to filter the air in order for it to be effective. Surgical masks may help to protect respiratory droplets from being released into the air, but do not provide adequate protection to the wearer, as air from the surrounding environment is still breathed in.

Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) are designed to have air filters, which minimise the risk of infection by protecting the lungs from hazardous substances, such as COVID-19. FFP3 or FFP2 ‘dust mask’ style face masks allow for a suitable level of air filtration, particularly useful for those participating in aerosol-generating activities or in high risk environments. FFP3 (stands for Filtering Facepiece Particulate Filter ‘3’) is the highest and most recommended level of filtration, and are used in many industrial and healthcare related processes to protect from coronavirus, hazardous dust and other materials. Other types of RPE include powered respirators and breathing apparatus.

Face Fit Testing for RPE

If RPE is used in the workplace, you need to ensure that it has been Face Fit Tested to the individual wearing it. To work effectively, the mask must be worn properly and have a good seal on the wearer’s face. An inadequate fit can mean no protection is provided, which can result in the individual becoming ill. Fit testing ensures that employees have adequate protection through the use of properly-fitted respiratory protective equipment.

How often should you carry out Face Fit Testing?

A fit test should be carried out every time there is a change to the RPE type, size, material or model, or whenever there is a change to the personal circumstances of the wearer, such as their weight or body modifications.

Who carries out Face Fit Testing?

Our qualified DBOCC Health team can offer assessments, advice and support for businesses in line with HSE Face Fit Testing requirements and legal requirements as the final line of defense against COVID-19 and other hazardous substances. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to RPE, so it’s important that a competent specialist carries out Face Fit Testing in the workplace. We carry out our fit testings in line with the guidance and social distancing advice from the government, making sure you and your staff are as safe as possible during the assessment.

Our qualified team have undergone extensive Face Fit Testing Training in the HSE laboratories in Buxton. That means that we know what is required when it comes to workplace safety in hazardous environments, and we know how to keep both your staff and business protected.

Minimising transmission of COVID-19 during Face Fit Testing

We take extra precautions when carrying out Face Fit Testing to minimise transmission of the virus. We can make observations from a distance and deliver any instructions verbally. Other actions include the following:

  • Both the fit tester (DBOCC) and the wearer to wash their hands before and after the test in accordance with NHS guidelines.
  • Cleaning of the inside and outside of the mask by the wearer before and after the test using a suitable disinfectant under the instruction of the Fit Tester (DBOCC).
  • Fit testers (DBOCC) will wear disposable gloves when undertaking cleaning of the tubes, hoods etc.
  • Immediate disposal of used gloves, disposable masks, cleaning wipes etc in a waste bin.
  • Only touch parts like the tubing, filter and testing adaptors when wearing gloves. Clean the mask end of the tube with a suitable disinfectant wipe after use.

Book a Face Fit Testing appointment for your staff to protect them against COVID-19.

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