Respiratory protective equipment (RPE) is essential equipment for some workers and industries, it is vital that the wearer is safely protected against airborne hazards such as dust, chemical particles, gases and vapours.
Face fit testing is an essential requirement for when using tight-fitting RPE, it is important to ensure the mask is fitted safely and correctly to maximise protection. It is crucial to adhere to the guidance set out by the HSE on OC282/28, another useful guidance is the HSG53, which is the respiratory protective equipment at work and the EH40 which is the workplace exposure limits.
The types of RPE that should be fit tested is anything that is classified as tight-fitting and has a seal, typical wearers can range from disposable respirators, half/full mask respirators, powered respirators, escape set mask, all require a fit test to be conducted by a certified person. Anything that is loose fitting, that does not create a seal around the face, does not require a face fit test, such as a hood, face masks or air-fed systems.
It is unlikely that one-size will fit all with RPE equipment. When exposed to hazardous substances, having a correctly worn RPE will ensure work is carried out. All wearers require a face fit test for each mask that is worn, and testing should be carried out regularly to meet requirements.
The two types of test depends on the environment and the RPE.
Qualitative face fit testing: