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Face Fit Testing - Frequently Asked Questions

What does close/tight/loose fitting mean?

Close and tight fitting are the terms usually given to a full face mask, a half mask or a filtering face piece that relies heavily on the quality of the fit of the face piece to the wearers face.  Loose fitting face pieces include visors, helmets, hoods and blouses.

Does fit testing mean that I now have to have my own face piece?

No.  However, you need to ensure that the make, model, type and size of face piece that you wear is the same as the mask worn during the face fit test.

I've just been on a breathing apparatus training course, why didn't they do the test as part of the course?

If you sit your breathing apparatus course at CSTS we can offer a limited number of tests on the day you attend for your course.  However, these are limited to early morning (prior to course start), during breaks and early evenings (after your course finishes).  As you can appreciate delegates cannot miss out any of the course content and because it takes up to a day to test a course full of delegates it is just not possible to test everyone on the day of their course.  To arrange a test on the day of your course, just speak to a member of the training team who will be happy to arrange this for you.

If I wear escape set masks do they need to be tested?

Yes.  All close fitting masks, or in other words masks that work by creating a seal to your face need to be tested. If your escape set is a hooded set then the hood is classed as loose fitting (not close fitting) and therefore does not require a test.

Do I have to pass a face fit test before I go on a breathing apparatus course?

No.  In fact it is the other way around. During the fit test you will be assessed on how well you fit the mask to your face so it is important you are competent in donning (putting on) procedures prior to the test.

I am not fit / overweight / have a bad leg etc. should I still take the test?

Yes - the test is not a fitness test or a health check.  The test is to determine how well the mask fits your face, NOT if you are fit enough to wear the mask.  Operatives do not have to be super fit to take the test but they will be expected to walk (not run) on a treadmill or step up and step down slowly for about 10 minutes.  If you have a cold then this can affect the test results (an increased number of particles in the mask!) - just speak to your tester who will be able to advise you.

My breathing apparatus works on positive pressure, do I still need a face fit test?

Yes - during the breathing cycle (particularly during heavy exertion) you breathe faster in and out in the middle of your breath.  This is known as peak inhalation/exhalation. During this period it is possible to 'over breathe' the set which will then momentarily operate in negative pressure in relation to the outside atmosphere.

I do a pre-use check every time I use the mask, isn't that the same as a face fit?

One of the pre-use checks for a face mask involves checking the seal by creating a negative pressure inside the mask and causing the mask to 'suck' onto the face.  This is a very quick test and does not take account of the movements a wearer makes during the course of their work or the effects of pressure inside the mask once working.  The only accurate method of testing for a seal is to carry out a formal face fit test.

Who says I need to be face fit tested?

The supporting guidance for COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health), CLaW (Control of Lead at Work) and CAR (Control of Asbestos Regulations) recommends face fit testing as a method of ensuring an adequate face seal.  The HSE document OC 282/28 (Fit Testing of Respiratory Protective Equipment Face Pieces) lays down the protocol for carrying out face fit testing.

Why do I need to be face fit tested?

Tight fitting face pieces rely on achieving good contact between the wearer's skin and the face seal of the face piece.  As people come in different shapes and sizes it is unlikely that one type of mask will fit everyone. A poor fit will reduce the level of protection and may lead to immediate or long term ill health of the wearer. A fit test is also useful for checking that the wearer can correctly don (put on) the face piece.

Can I be fit tested in the face piece I usually wear?

The fit test will be carried out using the face piece that you normally wear or one identical to it.  If you are to be fit tested in your own face piece then the face piece should be clean and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Note: It is not the job of the fit test provider to carry out any maintenance of the mask.  They have been advised by the HSE not to carry out a fit test on a face piece that is not maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

What if I normally wear more than one type of respirator?

If you need to wear more than one type of tight-fitting face piece for their job, e.g. a filtering face piece and a full-face mask respirator, then you should be fit tested for each type of face piece.

What will I be told at the end of the fit test?

Upon completion of the test, you will be told if you have obtained a pass or a fail.  A pass means that the face piece is suitable for you.  A failed fit test may indicate that the face piece does not fit properly.

What will happen if I fail a fit test?

The fit tester will ask you to refit the face piece and repeat the fit test.  If a better fit is not obtained they may ask you to try a different size or type of face piece and repeat the fit test.  You should not use a face piece that does not fit you properly.

How often should I have a fit test?

You should be retested if you or the company you work for need to change to different type of face piece; if you lose or gain weight; undergo any substantial dental work or develop facial imperfections (scars, moles, etc) around the face seal area.  Your company may also have a policy that you have a fit test every year or two years for example.  It is good practice to re-test at regular intervals.

You should not conduct a face fit test if....?

In accordance with HSE Protocol OC 282/28 Paragraph 98 states you should not conduct a fit test if there is ANY hair growth between the skin & the face piece sealing surface, such as stubble beard growth, beard, moustache, sideburns or low hairline which cross the respirator sealing surface.   You should also refrain from eating, smoking or drinking anything (except water) for at least an hour prior to the test.

Is CSTS Ltd Fit2Fit accredited ?

Yes we are,  CSTS provides a Fit2Fit accredited face fit testing service for clients throughout the UK either at clients' premises or at our own training centres here at Warrington, Enfield or Gatwick.   Just mention at the time of booking if you require an accredited tester.


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Call: 0208 8055 144
Email: oxygen@csts.co.uk