Do I need to be Fit Tested?

20th Jan 2023

If you are working in an environment where you’re exposed to harmful substances, ask yourself, do I need to be Fit Tested?

qualitative fit testing

Do I need to be Fit Tested?

You need to ask yourself these questions: -

Do I currently wear a tight-fitting face mask to carry out my job role?

Should I be wearing a tight-fitting face mask to carry out my job role?

Do I work with a substance, that if inhaled, could cause health problems, in the short or long term. (Don’t forget these substances may not cause health issues until later in life)

Who am I?

I am a qualified and accredited fit tester in both the qualitative and quantitative fit testing methods. I've been assessed by a scheme developed by the BSIF and HSE. Basically, I have demonstrated that I meet the standards, and tick all the boxes required. Therefore, you know you're being fit tested by a competent and qualified person.

What is Fit Testing?

Fit Testing is used to ensure that masks are providing the protection they should be. Your mask should be tight fitting and sealing to your face to prevent inhaling the hazardous substances. “Recent market research indicates that up to 50% of all RPE used does not offer the wearer the level of protection it should, and one of the major reasons is that it simply does not fit!  There is no point in wearing a mask if it isn’t fitting your face properly”.

If you wear a tight-fitting mask or your employer provides one as part of your PPE, this needs to be fit tested to ensure it is protecting you. This is a legal requirement, and your employer is breaking the law if you are not fit tested.

What does Fit Testing entail?

It is a very simple procedure. You can have it done in your place of work, meaning we can come to you, or you can come to us in Wokingham. You will need to bring the mask you're currently using or going to use. A risk assessment to determine what type of mask, and level of protection you need, will need to be carried out by your employer. You can also contact us for some advice if you need to.

There are 2 different methods of fit testing, Qualitative and Quantitative, both will provide an accurate result. It depends on the type of mask, and the environment we are fit testing in to determine which method is used.


Qualitative method

A method using taste to determine if your mask is fitted correctly. It generally takes 30-40 minutes to complete each test, with all the paperwork and fitting your mask etc. With this method, you can't eat, drink, smoke, or vape for at least 30 minutes before your test (plain water is allowed). You also can't have any facial hair as this creates a barrier.

Firstly, we assess how sensitive you're to the taste of a substance (generally a bitter or sweet tasting substance is used). We do this by putting a hood over your head and administering some of the taste into the hood. We then fit your mask and carry out a series of head movements, whilst you are in the hood. These movements you would generally do during your normal working day, head side to side, up and down etc. This is to ensure your mask is not leaking when you are carrying out your job role.

The actual fit test lasts for 7 minutes and consists of 7 different head movements.  You're being monitored during the 7 minutes to ensure the mask is offering a sufficient level of protection.  If we are happy with the result at the end, you will be given a fit test certificate for that mask.


Quantitative method


Before the test, you're only allowed plain water. You must not eat, smoke, or vape for at least 15 minutes before the test. You also can't have any facialhair as this creates a barrier.

With this method, you are linked up to the 'Portacount machine'. This machine has 2 tubes attached; one is attached to your mask, taking a reading from inside your mask. The other tube is taking a reading from the ambient air (the air in the room). This machine is counting the number of particles present inside your mask and comparing it to the number of particles present in the ambient air. It then provides a reading of how much cleaner the air is inside your mask, compared to outside. It is looking for a certain percentage to be able to pass the mask as providing adequate protection.

With this method, you carry out the same 7 different head movements over 7 minutes.  The machine is constantly taking readings during the 7 minutes and will produce a pass certificate at the end of the test if the correct pass levels are achieved.


How often do I need to be Fit Tested?

Your fit test certificate is only valid for the make and model of mask stated on it.

Your fit test certificate is valid for 2 years.

If you change the make or model of the mask you wear, you'll need to be re-fit tested.

You'll need to be re-fit tested if anything changes on your face (loose or gain weight, cosmetic surgery) anything that may alter your face shape, could change the fit of your mask.

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