Face Fit Testing for RPE
How can a workplace be sure that the respiratory protective equipment (RPE) provided fits employees properly? Has the face fit test been carried out competently?
What about beards and moustaches, do you have problems on how these stop the masks or hoods from working?
You ought to be sure because the health of your employees could be at serious risk.
Good occupational health demands that any protective device is used properly otherwise it could make matters worse than wearing no protection at all!
Why Do Face Fit Testing?
Recent research indicates that up to 50% of all RPE used does not offer the wearer the level of protection assumed, and one of the primary reasons is that it simply does not fit!
Under UK regulations RPE must be correctly selected, and this includes, for many types of RPE, a facepiece fit test done by a competent person.
So how can you be sure the person conducting the fit test is competent?
Given these significant concerns, the British Safety Industry Federation, along with the HSE and other industry stakeholders have developed a competency scheme for Fit Test Providers.
The Fit2Fit RPE Fit Test Providers Accreditation Scheme is designed to confirm the competency of any person performing facepiece fit testing.
My Opinion on Face Fit Testing
Many employers do not even understand the different types of respiratory equipment and the need to have face fit testing – so this would be a better place to start for me.
I worked in one organisation where respiratory health was being compromised all the time and none, and I mean none, of the many sites, had done any face fit testing.
The HSE came in to inspect and made a strong recommendation that face fit testing was undertaken, but I had expected at least an improvement notice.
Further Resources and Reading
The Healthy Working Lives website has an excellent tool for choosing the right type of respiratory protective equipment with pictures of all types available
See also this video on Silica and how properly fitted RPE would help