Fit Testing and the Law

Following this guidance is not compulsory and you are free to take other actions to comply with the requirements of the law. But if you do follow the guidance you will normally be doing enough to comply with the law. Health and safety inspectors seek to secure compliance with the law and may refer to this guidance as illustration of good practice. 

Extract from INDG479 Guidance on Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) Fit Testing

Extract from HSG53 Respiratory Protective Equipment at Work (A Practical Guide)

Fit testing

 84 If you are using RPE with tight-fitting facepieces you should make sure each wearer has a fit test (see paragraphs 71 and 72). This is needed to ensure the selected facepiece can fit the wearer correctly. 

85 You can use the fit test as a training opportunity, as it allows you to highlight to the wearer the consequences of poor fit and improper use on the effectiveness of the RPE device. 

86 It is also good practice to have a system to ensure repeat fit testing is carried out on a regular basis. This is especially important when RPE is used frequently as a primary means of exposure control, eg annual testing for workers involved in licensed asbestos removal. If there are any changes to a person’s face through, for example, weight loss/gain, scars etc, a repeat fit test will be necessary 

71 If you are considering RPE with a tight-fitting facepiece, you should make sure that each wearer undergoes a fit test. Remember, people come in different shapes and sizes, so facial differences will mean that one kind of RPE is unlikely to fit all. The differences are even more significant between men, women, and people of different ethnicity. If the RPE does not fit, it will not protect the wearer. 

72 Facepiece fit testing is a method of checking that a tight-fitting facepiece matches the wearer’s facial features and seals adequately to their face. It will also help to identify unsuitable facepieces that should not be used. Remember that tight-fitting RPE will only provide effective protection if the wearer is clean shaven, so they should also be clean shaven when fit tested. You should carry out a fit test as part of the initial selection of the RPE – see Appendix 4 for further details. If RPE is used frequently it is good practice to ensure repeat fit testing is carried out on a regular basis. 

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