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HSE Guidance on Face Fit Testing during Covid-19
wear a mask properly
it will save you
Safewell are Fit2Fit Accredited Face Fit Testers for qualitative (Portacount) and quantitative (taste test) face fit testing.
Face Fit Testing, Surgical Masks and Face Masks
There was a lot of talk and speculation about masks during the COVID-19 Pandemic, and there was confusion for some between the differences of a surgical mask, a face covering and an FFP3/FFP2 face mask. During the Pandemic The HSE updated its guidance on safely conducting face fit testing. This post was written at the time (May 2020) to help people understand masks and face fit testing. The content has been left has been left as it was originally written.
There is a lot of talk and speculation about masks currently surrounding Covid-19. There is a clear difference between a surgical mask, a face covering and a face mask such as an FFP3 or FFP2.
The surgical mask may offer protection from the wearers breath being expelled and thus offering some protection to those around. A face covering is a homemade variation of the the same.
When people say face mask they are probably referring to a ‘dust mask’ style face mask and recently the filter level has been used a lot in describing these in the media- FFP3 or FFP2. This stands for Filtering Face Piece Particulate Filter ‘3’ or ‘2’. FFP3 is the higher level of filtration and is recommended, in relation to covid-19, for health care professions partaking in aerosol generating procedures – those with the highest likelihood of airborne release of Covid-19 from an infected person. The technical term for these types of masks is RPE – Respiratory Protective Equipment.
FFP3 masks are also used in many industrial and work related processed to protect against high hazard dust and aerosols silica, wood etc
If an FFP3 mask is used it specifically needs Face Fit Testing if used in the workplace and the HSE have recently released guidance on how those who carry out face fit testing, such as Safewell, can continue to do so safely as lockdown begins to easy and working activities gather momentum once more.
Face fit testing is not required for surgical masks or face coverings.
[Updated May 2022] The HSE guidance on Face Fit testing in May 2020 is no longer available but the HSE still have a Covid 19 page here.
Face Fit Testing Background
A fit test should be carried out before anyone in the workplace wears RPE for the first time. Inadequate fit can reduce the protection provided and lead to immediate or long-term ill-health or can even put the RPE wearer’s life in danger. A fit test should be repeated whenever there is a change to the RPE type, size, model or material or whenever there is a change to the circumstances of the wearer that could alter the fit of the RPE; for example:
- weight loss or gain
- substantial dental work
- any facial changes (scars, moles, effects of ageing etc) around the face seal area
- facial piercings
- introduction or change in other head-worn personal protective equipment (PPE)
There is no stipulated frequency for re-testing, and you don’t need one if there are no changes in these circumstances.
Safewell offer face fit testing at our offices in Royal Wootton Bassett for individuals or groups, and we regularly travel to customer sites to complete face fit testing. We also do RPE training which can run alongside the fit testing.
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