What is face fit testing?
There are two methods of Face Fit Testing, Quantitative and Qualitative, both are approved by the HSE. Face Fit Testing must be carried out by an experienced Fit2Fit accredited fit tester or a competent person trained to the HSE standard. The Quantitative and Qualitative objectives are to recreate a working environment and to test the Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE). RPE must fit the wearer correctly leading to a good seal whilst they are working. The candidate will have to perform some simple exercises whilst wearing the selected face piece. These will be Normal & Deep Breathing, Head side to side, Up/Down, counting Aloud and Bending Over. These are the times when the RPE may fail & leak! During the Quantitative test the candidate will have to walk/step to increase their breathing whilst performing the above exercises. All the tests take 15 minutes, depending on failure. Once the candidate has passed the face fit, they will be issued with their certificate showing their details, RPE details & Date Tested. The wearer may have a peace of mind that the RPE selected is performing, as long as the mask is being donned (Put on) correctly & maintained.
Qualitative tests rely on a wearer’s subjective assessment of face seal leakage. These methods, during a series of test exercises, use the wearer’s sense of taste to detect face seal leakage of test agent. Qualitative tests are subject to problems with sensitivity, lack of objectiveness and inability to provide a numerical result. For these reasons Qualitative tests can only be employed for fit testing FFP’s (disposable) and half masks.
Quantitative tests can be used to fit test all types of tight-fitting masks including FFP’s (disposable), half and full face masks.
Quantitative tests can give an objective assessment of facial fit and provide a direct numerical result called a Fit Factor.
The most widely-used quantitative method for RPE fit testing is the Particle Counting method, a title ascribed to the TSI Portacount Plus. The Portacount Plus measures the number of ambient particles inside and outside a face piece and proves a numerical result which is the ratio of the two over a given test period. For more details on test exercises and pass levels go to the HSE INDG 479 protocol.