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Benefits of Face Fit Testing | Ensuring Safety & Compliance

UK Wide

We provide sampling and consultancy services throughout the UK and Ireland


We are happy to provide you with an obligation free estimate for work

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At Synergy Environmental, we understand that keeping your team safe is essential, especially in environments where airborne hazards are present. Face fit testing ensures that Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) like respirator masks fit correctly, providing the necessary protection against harmful particles.

Our testing services help you meet safety standards and protect your workforce. By learning about the importance and methods of face fit testing, you can maintain a safer and healthier workplace, reducing the risk of exposure to contaminants.

What is Face Fit Testing? – Ensuring Respiratory Protection in the Workplace

In today’s industrial and occupational settings, safeguarding employees’ health is vital – especially where airborne contaminants are a risk.

Face fit testing is an important procedure that checks if masks and respirators fit properly, making sure there’s an effective seal against the wearer’s face. This test helps protect workers from hazardous particles and gases, maintaining safety standards and compliance.

At Synergy Environmental, we offer thorough face fit testing services to keep your workforce safe and secure from respiratory hazards.

Why is Face Fit Testing Important?

Exposure to harmful airborne particles like dust, fumes, smoke and biological agents can lead to serious respiratory diseases. Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) such as filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) and half-face or full-face masks are the first line of defence against these hazards. However, it’s incredibly important that these masks fit snugly to create an airtight seal as poor fit can lead to leaks, allowing contaminated air to enter.

Face fit testing ensures that the chosen respirator or mask fits the individual’s facial features properly, providing proper protection against airborne hazards.

Types of Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE)

There are many different types of respiratory protective equipment (RPE) designed to protect your workforce against various airborne hazards. There are many different kinds of RPE available, each designed to protect against different environments and levels of exposure:

  • Filtering Facepiece Respirators (FFRs): These disposable masks are lightweight and easy to use and are ideal for protecting against dust and fumes.
  • Half-Face Masks: These masks cover the nose and mouth, offering a higher level of protection and can be equipped with different filters.
  • Full-Face Masks: These provide complete face coverage and are suitable for high-exposure environments, protecting against gases, vapours, and particulates.

Choosing the right RPE is essential for effective protection, and face fit testing ensures a proper fit, creating a secure seal for maximum safety.

Qualitative vs. Quantitative Face Fit Testing

The face fit testing process assesses how well a specific mask fits an individual’s face. There are two main testing methods:

  • Quantitative Fit Testing (QNFT): This method uses specialised equipment to measure the leakage around the mask’s seal during different exercises or movements. It provides precise, objective data, making it highly accurate and reliable.
  • Qualitative Fit Testing (QLFT): This involves the wearer performing exercises while exposed to a test agent, like Saccharin or Bitrex. If the wearer detects the taste or smell, it indicates a poor fit. This method is more subjective and relies on sensory perception.

Face fit testing is crucial because masks that don’t fit properly can leak, rendering them ineffective. Proper testing ensures the respirator fits correctly, providing the necessary protection for the wearer.

Preparation for Face Fit Testing

To make sure you get accurate results, there are a few steps that can be taken before your face fit testing. This includes:

  • Be Clean Shaven: Facial hair, including stubble, can prevent the mask from sealing properly against the skin. RPE wearers should make sure they’re clean-shaven before their face fit testing to ensure accurate results.
  • Avoid Eating or Drinking: Refrain from eating, drinking (except water), and smoking for at least 30 minutes before the test.
  • Wear Comfortable Clothing: Your workforce should choose clothing that won’t interfere with the fit of the respirator, as this could also affect the results of your face fit testing.

By following these preparation steps, you can ensure that the face fit test is more effective and accurate so you know the RPE is providing the necessary protection.

5 Proven Benefits of Face Fit Testing

  1. Worker Safety: The primary purpose of testing is to ensure safety the safety of your workers. By accurately assessing the compatibility of a respirator or mask with an individual’s face, the risk of exposure to harmful contaminants is greatly reduced.
  2. Compliance: Regulatory bodies and occupational health and safety standards make the use of proper respiratory protection in certain work environments mandatory. Face fit testing makes sure your business is compliant with these standards. protecting both workers and employers from potential legal and financial repercussions.
  3. Cost-Effectiveness: Effective testing prevents the purchase of inadequate respirators or masks. Investing in proper testing eliminates the need for trial and error and ensures that your RPE meets the required standards.
  4. Employee Confidence: Well-fitting masks boost workers’ confidence in their safety gear, improving job satisfaction and productivity.
  5. Healthcare Savings: Reducing exposure to harmful airborne particles lowers the incidence of respiratory illnesses, decreasing medical costs and easing healthcare system burdens.

Regulatory Standards and Compliance

Face fit testing is vital for adhering to occupational health and safety regulations. In the UK, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations require that all workers using tight-fitting respiratory protective equipment (RPE) undergo fit testing. This mandate applies to both reusable and disposable masks.

Regular fit testing ensures that the equipment maintains its effectiveness, providing necessary protection against harmful airborne substances. Compliance with these standards not only safeguards worker health but also shields employers from potential legal and financial consequences.

Cost-Benefit Analysis of Face Fit Testing

Investing in face fit testing brings clear financial and safety benefits:

  • Reduced Health Costs: Properly fitted masks lower the risk of respiratory illnesses, cutting down on medical expenses.
  • Increased Productivity: Healthy workers mean less downtime and more efficiency.
  • Compliance and Legal Safety: Meeting safety standards helps avoid fines and legal issues.
  • Efficient Use of Resources: Ensuring masks fit correctly reduces the need for frequent replacements, saving on equipment costs.

Common Issues and Troubleshooting

Even with thorough preparation, face fit testing can sometimes run into problems. Here are some common issues and tips to resolve them:

  • Poor Seal: Facial hair, makeup and jewellery can sometimes interfere with the mask’s seal. You should make sure the face is clean and free of any potential obstructions.
  • Variability: Individual facial features can impact the fit of your RPE, so it’s important to est each worker individually and offer alternatives if their existing mask or respirator system doesn’t fit correctly.
  • Wearer Discomfort: If the mask or respirator is uncomfortable, it might not be worn correctly. Adjust the straps and ensure it fits snugly without causing any discomfort.
  • Medical Conditions: Some pre-existing medical conditions, like asthma, skin allergies, or heart problems, may restrict or prevent workers from wearing certain types of RPE. Ensure workers are medically fit to wear the selected RPE. If in doubt, arrange for a medical assessment.
  • Maintenance: Regular care and maintenance of RPE are crucial. Conduct fit testing periodically and when facial features change.
  • Communication: Clear instructions and communication during the test are essential for accurate results.

By addressing any issues prior to your face fit testing, you can ensure a more effective test and reliable respiratory protection.

Employee Training and Education for Face Fit Testing

Training and educating employees on the proper use of respiratory protective equipment (RPE) is essential for ensuring safety.

Employees must learn how to correctly wear and adjust their masks to achieve a proper fit. Regular training sessions reinforce correct techniques and keep workers updated on new procedures or equipment. It’s important to educate them on the significance of face fit testing and its role in protecting their health. Additionally, teaching proper maintenance and care of RPE ensures ongoing protection.

Investing in comprehensive training and education helps create a safer workplace by emphasizing the importance of a proper mask fit.

FAQs About Face Fit Testing

What is face fit testing?

Face fit testing makes sure your workers’ RPE fits properly and provides effective protection against airborne hazards such as dust, gases, fumes and particulates.

How long does face fit testing last?

A face fit test usually takes around 30 minutes to complete.

How often should face fit testing be done?

Face fit testing should be done when a mask is first issued and periodically after that. It might be necessary to test more frequently if there are changes in the RPE type, size, model or material.


Also, repeat tests are needed if there are changes to the wearer, such as significant weight changes, facial alterations (like scars, moles and ageing), facial piercings or changes in head-worn PPE. Regular reviews are recommended to account for changes in face shape over time.

Who needs to undergo face fit testing?

Anyone using tight-fitting respiratory protective equipment (RPE), including both reusable and disposable masks, should undergo face fit testing.

What are the two main types of face fit testing?

There are two main types of face fit testing:

  • Qualitative Fit Testing (QLFT): This method relies on the wearer’s sense of taste or smell to detect leaks.
  • Quantitative Fit Testing (QNFT): This uses specialised equipment to measure the mask’s seal, which is often the preferred approach as it’s more objective.

What happens if a mask fails the face fit test?

If a mask fails, adjustments or different sizes or types of masks should be tried until a proper fit is achieved.

Can face fit testing be done for all types of masks?

Yes, face fit testing should be completed for various types of tight-fitting masks, including half-face and full-face respirators, depending on your industry.

Is facial hair allowed during a face fit test?

No, facial hair can effect the way mask seals, so wearers should be clean-shaven.

What are the requirements for Face Fit testing?

Face fit testing is required by regulatory bodies to ensure the mask provides an effective seal, preventing exposure to airborne contaminants. It must be conducted by trained personnel or specialist companies and should be done for all tight-fitting RPE.

Why should I wear RPE?

RPE is essential to protect against harmful airborne substances that can cause serious health issues. Properly fitted RPE provides the necessary protection to keep you safe in hazardous environments.

What should I do before providing RPE to employees?

Ensure the RPE is suitable for the specific hazards and that employees are trained on its correct use and maintenance.

What should I do after providing RPE to employees?

Monitor its usage, ensure it is maintained properly, and conduct regular fit tests to ensure ongoing protection.

Where can I get more information on RPE?

Detailed information on RPE can be found on the HSE website.



Face fit testing is essential in occupational health and safety, ensuring that respiratory protective equipment (RPE) provides effective protection against airborne hazards. This process helps prevent potential health risks to workers, prioritizing their well-being.

As workplaces focus on employee safety, rigorous testing procedures become crucial. By investing in proper face fit testing, employers not only comply with regulatory standards but also demonstrate their commitment to long-term health and safety.

Ensuring masks fit properly reflects a dedication to creating a secure and healthy work environment amid evolving industrial challenges.

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Available COSHH services

We’re happy to answer any questions you have, or provide you with an obligation free estimate for work. Just send us a message!
01782 614236 or [email protected]

Workplace Air Monitoring

LEV Testing

COSHH Regulation 9

Breathing Air Testing

Face Fit Testing

Workplace Noise Monitoring

Hand Arm Vibration

Whole Body Vibration

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Synergy Environmental Solutions provide
sampling and consultancy services
throughout the UK and Ireland

We’re happy to answer any questions you have,
or provide you with an obligation
free estimate for work.
Just send us a message!

Tel: 01782 614236

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