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Why Face Fit Testing Is Important

Updated on January 23, 2015

Respiratory Protective Equipment RPE

Respiratory protective equipment is designed to protect people who are working in environments in which they come into contact with harmful substances on a regular basis. These substances could range from very harmful toxins to the more mundane dust and fumes. In order to select the correct form of respiratory protective equipment, it is important to know the details of the environment which you are being exposed to. To make an informed decision you will need to know what the harmful substance is you need protection from, the volume of this you will potentially be exposed to. This is summarised by the governments health and safety advice, which states that the respiratory protective equipment must be adequate and suitable. This means that the protection it gives is adequate for the situation, and suitable for the person wearing it and the type of work they will be carrying out.

Keep Safe, Get Face Fit Tested

If you work in an environment where RPE is needed, it is vital that the piece of equipment fits correctly. As there is little point wearing a face mask if it is letting in the substances which it is meant to be protecting the wearer from. According to research which was carried out recently, it is thought that up to half of respiratory protective equipment does not fit correctly. If, when you were allocated face masks, you did not go through a rigorous fitting procedure, then you can probably assume you are in the 50% which are incorrectly fitted. It is easy to find something which is adequate for the job, but it is finding something suitable which is more difficult but equally as important.

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Every Face Tells A Different Story

Each person's face is a different shape and size so a one size fits all approach will not work here. This is why manufacturers of respiratory protective equipment produce products in various different shapes, sizes and styles, enabling every person to get the tight seal between the face and the mask required to afford the wearer the protection needed. Because there are so many shapes and styles, face fit testing should take place with every face mask you wear. Just because a size fits in one style does not automatically mean you will be the same size in a different style, even if it is made by the same manufacturer.

Wide Variety Of Face Shapes


Make Sure Its Qualified

Face fit testing should only be completed by a person who is sufficiently qualified and also has a wealth of experience in the area. This is to ensure any problems which arise during the process of fitting are ironed out. Luckily The British Safety Industry Federation has introduced a fit2fit accreditation, which will enable employers and yourself to know who to trust when it comes to fitting your respiratory protective equipment. Although this accreditation is not a legal requirement when face masks are fitted to workers, it could help should a dispute arise involving whether or not an illness was contracted in the workplace. Having staff fitted by an accredited person shows good business practice, and could be the difference should any conflicts take place.

Face Fit Testing : 3M Safety


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