Last edited 23 Feb 2017

Fit testing

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) includes a legal requirement for workers using respiratory protective equipment (RPE), to have it fit tested by a competent person.

Fit testing is required to ensure that RPE provides adequate protection for the wearer. Masks and similar equipment rely on a good seal being achieved against the face. Any gaps around the seal will allow air to leak through.

A leading cause of leaks in RPE is facepieces that are poorly fitted. Fit testing helps ensure the most suitable type and size is selected for each individual.

Facial hair makes it more difficult, and in some cases impossible, to achieve a good seal. In such cases, alternative forms of RPE that do not rely on such a tight seal should be used.

Steps should be taken to ensure that the person conducting the RPE fit testing has been appropriately trained and qualified. The British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF), together with HSE and other industry stakeholders, have developed a competency scheme, Fit2Fit REP Fit Test Provider Accreditation Scheme.

NB in 2017, the Health and Safety Executive carried out tests on a number of filtering facepieces. Just five passed all the tests with no faults or failures:

  • Two models had an isolated fault on a single sample.
  • Three models had multiple faults, two of them serious.
  • Four of the manufacturers included no, or limited, information on pre-use checks.

For more information see: Performance of FFP3 disposable respirators.

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