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 News Update 

What do you need to do?

If you decide that an individual Face Fit or multiple Face Fits are required please click here to contact Safewell.

The best time to do Face Fit testing is at the initial selection stage where possible, when individual users can be given a choice of adequate models of RPE. You should ensure that the make, model, type and size of facepiece that they wore when they had their successful fit test is made available for their use. If an employee wears more than one type of tight-fitting facepiece, then each type of facepiece should be fit tested.


What is Face Fit Testing?

Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH), employees who wear tight fitting face pieces (masks to protect them from dusts, solvents etc.) are required to have a face fit test to ensure the face piece/mask matches the employee’s facial features and will provide an adequate seal to protect the wearer. Tight fitting face pieces, dust masks, solvent masks, face masks, RPE and respiratory protective equipment are all terms for the same thing – a mask used to reduce the airborne hazards entering the lungs. A Face fit test is only required for masks with a tight face seal.

Why Face FIt Test?

Every individual has a uniquely shaped face, whereas all masks of the same make and model are identical. Therefore one size clearly cannot fit nor adequately protect every individual. To ensure the mask adequately protects the person a Face Fit Test should be completed.

We use a quantitative fit testing approach using a TSI Portacount. This avoids subjective test differences that can be associated with qualitative testing.

We can help you to manage this by completing face fit testing for your employees. These can be part of a health surveillance program or a standalone face fit test. It typically includes a questionnaire and a person wearing their own mask and performing a series of tests to establish if the mask fits correctly under the normal stresses of use. One face fit test is required for each different type of mask used.
Following the face fit test the employee and the employer will be given a Fitness for Work Certificate stating the outcome as pass or fail.

Where can Face Fit Testing be Carried Out?

As with most of our services, these can be at your workplace or at our Safewell offices in Royal Wootton Bassett. If it’s only a handful of people or individuals then our office works well otherwise it makes sense to arrange the Face Fitting at your workplace.

A Note on Facial Hair

Many masks rely on a good seal against the face so that, when you breathe air in, it is drawn into the filter material where the air is cleaned. If there are any gaps around the edges of the mask, ‘dirty’ air will pass through these gaps and into your lungs. It is therefore very important that you put your mask on correctly and check for a good fit every time.

Facial hair – stubble and beards – make it impossible to get a good seal of the mask to the face.

If you are clean-shaven when wearing tight-fitting masks (i.e. those which rely on a good seal to the face), this will help prevent leakage of contaminated air around the edges of the mask and into your lungs. You will therefore be breathing in clean air, which will help you stay healthy.

If there are good reasons for having a beard (eg for religious reasons), alternative forms of RPE, that do not rely on a tight fit to the face, are available.

At Safewell we strongly advise that all employees are clean shaven to achieve maximum seal of the mask on to the individuals face, but talking from experience and taking in to account todays fashion for men’s facial hair we have had successful face fits with employees who have had mild stubble to beards.

Ultimately a cleanly shaven face is preferable and strongly advised and the employees must be made aware of this ideally at the start of their employment. Should an employee have a beard or stubble on the day of the Face Fit, its either recommended that they go and shave if willing or we can attempt a Face Fit Test as they are and decide on the next step from the out come of the result.

Employees who are required to wear a face mask on a daily basis or regularly wear one through the week must ideally maintain the same standard of facial hair length as on the original test day.

For more information on the basics of Face fitting follow the link to Safewells face fitting page or click here for the HSE guidelines.

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