Face Fit Testing – Compass Skills Training


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Where RPE is used, it must be able to provide adequate protection for individual wearers. RPE can’t protect the wearer if it leaks. A major cause of leaks is poor fit – tight-fitting facepieces need to fit the wearer’s face to be effective.

As people come in all sorts of shapes and sizes it is unlikely that one particular type or size of RPE facepiece will fit everyone. Fit testing will ensure that the equipment selected is suitable for the wearer.

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A face fit test is a simple test which checks whether a person’s mask fits their face shape and size. When worn correctly RPE (respiratory protective equipment) should protect the wearer from airborne hazards (particulates, dusts, gases etc.

The best time to do fit testing is at the initial selection stage, when individual users can be given a choice of adequate models of RPE. You should ensure that the make, model, type and size of facepiece that they wore when they had their successful fit test is made available for their use. If an employee wears more than one type of tight-fitting facepiece, then each type of facepiece should be fit tested.

Compass face fit testers are competent in face fit testing being trained by a fit2fit tester and with a wealth of experience in face fit testing and advising clients and individuals on suitable RPE.

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The tester will ask you questions about the job you do and what respiratory hazards you are exposed to. A sensitivity test will be carried out – which will include wearing the hood and a weak solutions being sprayed – one the individual tastes the solutions the tester will know how sensitive they are and the number of sprays to be used for the actual test. The tester will then ask the individual to put on their mask and will check that the mask is put on correctly. The fit test will then be carried out  – again wearing the hood with the tester spraying the solution into the hood every 30 seconds while asking the individual to perform a variety of simple tasks – normal breathing, deep breathing, moving head up and down etc. If at any point during the test the individual can taste the solution the mask has failed.

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The test will take around 20 minutes per person – this will include making sure the mask is put on correctly, the sensitivity test and the test itself.

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You must be clean-shaven for the tester to perform the test. The test cannot be carried out within 30-40 minutes after eating, drinking or smoking.


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Close-fitting respiratory protection relies on the seal around the individual’s mouth and nose. If there is any facial hair this could breach the seal resulting in a fail of the face fit test but also resulting in adequate respiratory protection.

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Tell the tester and they will check the mask.

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Close-fitting respiratory protection is not suitable for you. You should speak to your employer about alternative type of RPE.

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It is a harmless bitter tasting solution called Bitrex.