In some working environments workers may be required to wear respirators or breathing apparatus to protect their health. These devices, often referred to as Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE), filter the air removing harmful substances.
An employer has a legal responsibility to control substances hazardous to health in the workplace and prevent an employees’ exposure to potential harm.
It’s vital that the RPE is fit for the hazard, as well being fit for the wearer, the task and the environment they’re working in.
The Face Fit Test
A Face Fit Test is a simple, but vital check that any RPE matches the wearer’s facial features and seals adequately to their face. Each wearer should have the test before using any RPE (particularly those with tight-fitting facepieces), to ensure the selected facepiece fits the wearer correctly.
Optimum performance of RPE is dependent on good contact between the wearer’s skin and the seal of the facepiece. Remember that faces vary in shape and size and it’s unlikely that one type or size will fit all. A poor fit can reduce protection, putting the wearer in danger of immediate or long-term ill health.
Regular Face Fit Testing is encouraged, especially where RPE is not used frequently and keeping fit testing records is recommended.
The Face Fit Test can also act as a useful training opportunity, highlighting to the workforce the consequences of poorly fitting and improper use of any RPE.