Investing in face fit testing is important for protecting the safety of your employees, but do you know if it’s a legal requirement? Learn more about face fit testing and find out what the legal requirements are with this comprehensive guide.

face fit testing


What is face fit testing?

Face fit testing is a process used to measure how well a respirator mask fits an individual’s face. It helps to determine whether the wearer will be adequately protected in hazardous environments where there is a risk of respiratory exposure to harmful substances. The face fit test involves wearing a respirator and undertaking exercises to assess the effectiveness of the fit. The test will also assess whether any adjustments need to be made for better protection.

Who should complete face fit testing?

Employers are legally required to carry out face fit testing for all of their employees who wear tight-fitting respirators, such as dust mask or full face respirator. Employers should provide suitable face fit testing services and provide clear guidance on the proper use of protective equipment. It is also important that employers train staff in the recognition and selection of respiratory hazards, and in the proper procedures for wearing respirators when the risk assessment has identified a need.

What kind of equipment is used for face fit testing?

Face fit testing requires the use of specialized equipment to check how well a tight-fitting respirator fits someone’s face. The most common devices used for face fit testing are Qualitative Fit Test (QLFT) devices, such as Bitrex, Saccharin and Isoamyl Acetate. These tests will not only help to assess whether the respirator fits properly, but also when there is a need to retest due to changes in facial characteristics.

What are the legal requirements for face fit testing?

Legal requirements for face fit testing are outlined in the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, which states that employers must protect their employees who “are or may be exposed” to breathing apparatus which cannot be worn safely without a face fitting test. Face fit testing must also follow the guidelines set out in The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (PPE Regulations). Under these regulations, employers are required to assess the need for PPE and it is their responsibility to provide any PPE needed. If a tight fitting respirator is used, you must have face fit testing carried out on site by a competent person.

How often should you carry out a face fit test?

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), you should carry out a face fit test for each worker every 12 to 36 months depending on setting they are used in, or more frequently if your breathing apparatus is subject to a substantial change. Daily face fit testing may also be necessary if changes in facial features occur due to weight gain or loss, dental work, or any other facial alteration which may affect the respirator’s fit. It is important that any facial changes are recorded and monitored to ensure a safe fit is maintained.

A B Medical Services (UK) Ltd can advise on the testing intervals and the most appropriate masks for your setting as part of our initial FREE consultation