Face Fit Testing
At Contract Services we understand the importance of providing our staff with Personal Protective Equipment. As part of the regime we undertake Face Fit Testing. We have a legal requirement to protect our team against harmful substances such as dust, asbestos and other airborne toxins. It is now a legal requirement to undertake individual Face Fit Testing to make sure a respirator fits properly to a face.
Face Fit Testing is a process used to ensure that respiratory protective equipment (RPE) is properly fitted and sealed to the users face. It has to be an individual test as everyone’s face differs in shape, size and proportion. As good as a filter may be in stopping any particles or respiratory hazard being inhaled if the mask won’t seal to the face the filters can’t do their job. We therefore need to ensure that the chosen mask is capable of forming an effective seal to the face.
The user must be clean shaven to help prevent leakage of contaminated air around the edges of the mask however if there are reasons for not being clean shaven (for example religious reasons) in which case alternative forms of RPE such as full face type masks are available.
The Qualitative Face Fit test involves the use of two solutions, either bitter or sweet. An aerosol of the chosen solution is made using a nebulizer which makes aerosol particles of 5 microns which are easily trapped by a particulate filter.
The first solution is simply designed to test sensitivity i.e your ability to detect the chosen substance. Once sensitivity is established the second much stronger solution is used. All of this takes place in the confines of a hood to ensure an adequate concentration for the test. Whilst wearing the mask the user is required to do a number of movements including normal breathing, deep breathing, turning the head from side to side, up and down, talking, bending over and back to normal breathing. If you can taste the solution then this is a failed test as the seal must not be fitted correctly to the face.
Once all these steps have been undertaken the user is required to put their hand inside the hood and pull the mask away from their face whilst taking a breath. Whilst this may be a little unpleasant, it is legislation and a very effective demonstration that the mask has protected them against the test solution.