Types of test
Qualitative testing is suitable for disposable and re-usable half masks.
The test is carried out in two stages:
The sensitivity test confirms if the wearer can detect the test agent (either smell or taste). The test agent is sprayed into a test hood so that the wearer’s sensitivity can be established.
The fit test requires the wearer to don their face mask and the test hood. The tester sprays the test agent into the hood at intervals whilst the wearer is carrying out a series of exercises designed to simulate movement expected in the workplace (e.g. moving head side to side, up and down, and talking out loud). If the wearer can taste or smell the test agent at any time this indicates a fail – the mask does not fit.
Quantitative testing is required for all tight fitting respirators, including full face masks.
There are several methods of quantitative testing, the most commonly used is ‘particle counting’ using a machine called a TSI Portacount. This counts the number of microscopic dust particles in the ambient air and compares this to the number of dust particles inside the mask. The machine is connected to the mask with a plastic sample tube. During the test the wearer carries out a series of exercises designed to simulate movement expected in the workplace (e.g. moving head side to side, up and down, and talking out loud). The machine detects particles leaking into the mask and at the end of the test indicates whether the test is a pass or fail.
Who needs Quantitative Face Fit Testing?
Any person who wears a full-face self-contained respiratory mask or compressed air breathing apparatus
What does the test involve?
Face fit is a series of tests and exercises emulating a full range of facial movement to ensure an adequate seal is maintained. The test is laid out as such:
- Normal breathing
- Deep breathing
- Head side to side
- Head up and down
- Bending over
- Talk out loud (reading a passage of text)
- Normal breathing
All exercises (except bending over) are carried out while stepping on and off a low step.
All exercises must be passed.
How to prepare for your face fit test
Several things could affect the results of your face fit test, due to the accuracy of the equipment. These include, but are not limited to:
- Facial hair (see below)
- Long hair (will need to be tied back)
It is also recommended that you do not smoke, eat or drink for at least 1 hour prior to the test.
Facial hair, stubble and beards make it extremely difficult to get a good seal. If there are good reasons for having a beard (i.e. for religious reasons) alternative forms of RPE, that do not rely on a tight fit to the face are available: i.e. full hooded masks.
If you have any questions regarding face fit tests or the different types of RPE available, please speak to one of our face fit team on 01903 944700.