Mask face-fit testing

Many of our on-site projects, together with operations in our fabrication workshop, require the use of respiratory protective equipment.

Harvey are committed to maintaining the highest standards of health & safety throughout our operations, protecting the welfare of our employees, and ensuring full compliance with Health & Safety regulations. We have recently been conducting a routine programme of ‘face fit’ testing for staff, run at our Bristol head office. If an employee is required to use respiratory protection in the course of their work then it is a legal requirement to test that their mask is working effectively.

Put simply, a protective mask is only effective if it doesn’t leak. The seal around the face is the single biggest point of failure for respiratory masks. This is why face fit testing is essential.

Respiratory mask face fit testing

The test procedure involves the employee wearing the mask they’ve been issued whilst performing a number of actions including mild exertion and side to side head movements. The testing equipment is able to detect when any atmospheric leak is occurring. Often any leakage that is occurring can be tuned out by making adjustments to the mask fit, or it may require the use of a different standard size fitting, or even switching to a different brand of appliance. One of the most common causes of failure is facial hair. Even a small amount of stubble around the mask seal can render it ineffective.

Only when an adequate seal has been demonstrated by the test procedures will a certificate of compliance be issued. Without this certificate the employee is not permitted to undertake any work requiring protection. The certificate remains in effect for two years, after which the assessment must be repeated and the respiratory device re-certificated.

Harvey work with Appropriate RPE Services to conduct this testing programme and ensure that the protective equipment used by our operatives is suitable for purpose.