Qualitative Face Fit test

Man undergoing a qualitative face fit test or leak test, as it is also known as

Qualitative Face Fit

Testing is essential to demonstrate that a person’s respiratory protective mask fits them properly and they know how to put it on properly.

Most building materials used in construction contains a compound called silica.  Materials include bricks, blocks, slabs, kerbstones, tiles, cement and mortar.  Cutting or mixing of these materials will produce dust and, if inhaled, can go on to cause long-term lung disease such as silicosis.

Avoiding the production of dust is to be encouraged where possible, either by using different building materials or using different cutting techniques, such as using block splitters.  Where the production of dust can not be avoided, it needs to be controlled.

This can be done using one of two main methods:-

  • On-tool extraction or Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV)
  • Water suppression

Whilst these methods greatly reduce the amount of dust being produced, they do not eliminate it completely.  Therefore, to avoid the inhalation of harmful particles, suitable Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) must be worn.

There are a number of different options available on the market but a qualitative face fit test is to test tight fitting facepieces, such as an FFP3 (Filtering Face Pieces) mask.

An FFP3 mask is the best form of protection you can obtain through a disposable face mask.  This is the type of mask that will be tested in a face fit test.

Tight fitting facepieces require a good seal against the wearer’s face to work effectively.  This is why it is important for people having a face fit test to be clean shaven.

Each test takes 7 minutes.  The candidate is shown how to wear their mask correctly and then places their head inside a hood which is filled with a bitter or sweet tasting vapour.  If, after the test the candidate cannot taste the vapour, this shows that the mask is worn correctly.

A certificate showing completion of a test is provided detailing which type of mask was worn during the test.  It is recommended that tests are re-taken every 2 years or earlier if the candidate has gone through any type of facial surgery or lost/gained significant weight.

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