It is your legal duty to keep your employees safe in their workplace. If they work with or are exposed to hazardous dust or chemicals in the air, this means that you must do more than provide masks to keep them safe. You need to ensure that the mask fits the wearer comfortably and creates a suitable seal on the wearer’s face to ensure protection.
The only legally compliant way to do this is through an HSE-approved Face Tit Test, provided by a qualified person.
Face Fit Testing ensures that any mask an employee is required to wear seals adequately to prevent the inhalation of any dangerous or hazardous particulates the wearer is exposed to.
It is recognised by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) as the only means of ensuring that a mask wearer is adequately protected through the use of respiratory protective equipment (RPE).
Having a tight-fitting facepiece and other masks properly fitted is essential. Otherwise, your staff could be exposed to diseases, harmful chemicals, fumes and dust. Inhaling these substances can lead to long term ill health for your staff and even litigation against your company.
A Face Fit Test certificate will only apply to the specific person and model of mask that is tested on the day. If the mask is later changed or modified it will require another fit test.
There are two types of face fit tests available. Qualitative face fit testing involves asking the wearer to detect particulates themselves via smell or taste. In contrast, quantitative face fit testing gives a definitive overview of whether a mask seals adequately by using an ambient particle counting device.
Face fit testing is a simple process with David Barber Occupational Health in Derby.
While wearing RPE, you are asked to do some light exercises that simulate your everyday working life. As you do these movements, we will use a machine that measures the particulates in the test room and within your mask.
Once tested, your RPE will need to achieve a certain level in order to pass. This is called a fit factor.
The tester will be able to identify any unsuitable facepieces and advise on adequate alternatives.
Providing the correct RPE (Respiratory Protective Equipment) for your employees is a legal requirement under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations, the Control of Lead at Work Regulations and the Control of Asbestos Regulations.
This means that many workplaces are legally required to give their employees a Face Fit Test as well. This is the only to make sure the provided face mask creates a good seal with the wearer’s face and provides sufficient protection.
You must fit test any tight-fitting masks that your workforce wear in order to protect them from hazardous materials. The only type of mask that does not need to be assessed by a qualified tester are the disposable masks modelled on surgical masks that are currently used to minimise COVID transmission.
At David Barber Occupational Health, we provide a competent person to carry out fit tests on all of the following masks:
This type of mask mechanically pumps air through a filter in order to move any hazardous or dangerous particulates.
A tight-fitting powered respirator will provide the highest possible level of protection. They come in either full face or half face models.
As well as covering your nose and mouth, a full-face mask will also cover your eyes to protect them. They do not feature a mechanically powered air filter.
Filtering facepieces (FFP’s) have been used in many industries to protect against a range of particulates. Since 2020 they’ve also been worn in many healthcare settings in order to provide sufficient protection against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).
A tight-fitting facepiece only covers the mouth and nose area, and most feature a double strap to create a sufficient face seal. This type of mask features a passive filter in the mask itself and provides a fluid barrier as well as filtering out particulates.
Unlike the other masks mentioned above, full breathing apparatus utilises its supply of air, from a tank cylinder or compressor.
Also known as Emergency Escape masks, these respirators are a type of portable breathing apparatus that regenerate air that is safe to breathe. They are for temporary, emergency, use when a person needs to escape an area filled with harmful gases.
Traditionally, a face fit test was mainly needed by people working with hazardous chemicals or dust. This meant it was confined to the manufacturing, construction and scientific research industries.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, other industries have started to utilise a face fit testing service to protect their staff. This includes in the dental industry, healthcare and within care homes. Many retail companies have even introduced these tests.
Anyone who needs to wear any type of RPE to keep them safe while working is legally obliged to undergo Face Fit Testing.
This is the only method approved by the HSE to fully protect employees against inhaling hazardous substances It’s a quick and easy procedure that keeps employees as safe as possible.
Facial hair poses an issue in Face Fit Testing.
In order for masks to create an effective seal to the face, the user must be cleanly shaven. Recent research has revealed that ANY stubble, beard or facial hair will compromise the seal between the wearers face and their mask. This will put them in danger of breathing contaminated air.
This means we are only able to carry out a Face Fit Test on people who are clean-shaven. Staff members required to wear respiratory protective equipment on a regular basis will need to remain clean-shaven whenever they wear tight-fitting RPE so that it is able to provide adequate protection.
Obviously, there are situations where beards are worn for medical or religious reasons. Under these circumstances, alternative forms of masks such as a full hood or loose-fitting respirator that fits around a wearer’s entire head may be suitable.
If you need advice about the option to use a loose-fitting respirator or hood, you can contact our occupational health team in Derby for support.
The David Barber Occupational Health team can offer advice, assessments of work environments and a Face Fit Testing service for businesses and companies throughout the Midlands. We are able to offer on-site HSE Face Fit Testing in Derby, Nottingham and the surrounding areas, or tests can be carried out in our Head Office in Shardlow.
Our face fit testers have all undergone extensive training courses at the HSE laboratory in Buxton. This means they are able to identify unsuitable face pieces for use in hazardous environments.
Our team know how to keep both your staff and business protected. We ensure you are complying with the appropriate health and safety laws. Arrange an assessment with us today to book a face fit test in Derby today.
Face Fit Testing should always be carried out prior to the employee being required to wear one, so the sooner they know their fit the better! Beyond this, any time the wearers face changes dramatically due to weight gain or loss or extreme dental work etc the wearer will need to be retested.
Yes, providing the correct RPE (Respiratory Protective Equipment) is a legal requirement under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations, the Control of Lead at Work Regulations and the Control of Asbestos Regulations. This means that Face Fit Testing is a legal requirement to fully protect employees.
Face Fit Testing is the only method approved by the HSE to fully protect employees against hazardous fumes, dusts and chemicals. It’s a quick and easy procedure that keeps employees as safe as possible.
Face Fit Testing protects against nothing other than poorly fitting RPE. However, faulty or poorly fitted RPE can lead to much more serious issues in the workplace like occupational asthma and other respiratory illnesses.
Face Fit Testing is a very simple process. You will be required to do several very light exercises that stimulate your normal everyday work life whilst wearing your RPE. Whilst doing these movements, you will be hooked up to a machine that measures particulate in the test room and within the RPE. In order for the RPE to be deemed as suitable, it needs to achieve a certain level called a fit factor.
In order for the mask to fit correctly and ensure employees are safe, even disposable masks should be face-fit tested.
Anybody who needs to wear any kind of RPE as part of their job needs to undergo face fit testing.
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