Women Wearing Face Mask And Goggles, While Taking Part In A Face Fit Test

Face Fit Testing

As people come in all shapes and sizes, it's unlikely that one type or size of RPE facepiece will fit all. Sunbelt Rentals are specialists in Face Fit Testing and have many strategically located FIT2FIT accredited Respiratory Technicians deployed across the UK. Our technicians are dedicated to the delivery of face fit testing to help organisations comply with the requirements of legislation and industry regulations. We've already helped support many organisations, including the NHS.

What is face fit testing?

Fit testing is a method for checking that a specific model and size of tight-fitting face piece matches the wearer’s facial features and seals adequately to the wearer’s face. It will also help to identify unsuitable face pieces which should not be used.

Who should provide Face fit testing?

Face Fit testing should be conducted by a competent person. Competence can be demonstrated by accreditation under the Fit2Fit RPE Fit Test Providers Accreditation Scheme. This scheme has been developed by the BSIF, together with industry stakeholders, and is supported by HSE.

Do you need nationwide face fit testing?

Our Fit2Fit accredited Respiratory Technicians carry out Face Fit testing across the UK. These tests only take 25 minutes and can be carried out remotely, or at our testing centres in Barking, Heathrow, Bristol, Exeter, Thrapston, Burton and Manchester.

What is Qualitative Face Fit Testing?

A subjective test based on the wearer’s assessment of any leakage through the face seal region by detecting the introduction of bitter or sweet-tasting aerosol. This is suitable for disposable and reusable half masks only.

What is Quantitative Face Fit Testing?

An objective test based on numerical measuring to detect the fit factor of a mask. Methods include Ambient Particle Counting (APC) and Controlled Negative Pressure (CNP). This is suitable for full face masks, as well as disposable and reusable half masks.


Our training courses are designed to teach you the knowledge and skills to perform face fit testing on your own colleagues. 

  • FIT2FIT accredited Quantitative Face Fit Testing
  • FIT2FIT accredited Qualitative Face Fit Testing
  • Qualitative Train The Tester courses
  • Quantitative Train the Tester courses
  • RPE User’s Training
  • Confined Spaces Training
  • Masks and Filters
  • Powered Respirators
  • Qualitative Test kits and solutions
  • Quantitative Testing equipment spares.

Is Face fit testing a legal requirement and is face fit testing mandatory?

HSE guidance and ACOPS are issued by the Health and Safety Executive. Following the guidance is not compulsory, unless specifically stated, and you are free to take other action. 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.

The Approved Codes of Practice (ACOPs) supporting the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH), the Control of Lead at Work Regulations, the Control of Asbestos Regulations, the Confined Spaces Regulations and the Ionising Radiations Regulations stipulate that tight-fitting RPE should be fit tested as part of the selection process.

Why must RPE be Face Fit Tested?

Where respiratory protective equipment (RPE) is used as a control measure under health and safety legislation, it is vital that the selected RPE is both adequate and suitable.

You must be able to prove the RPE is: To ensure that the selected RPE has the potential to provide adequate protection for individual wearers

  • Adequate RPE is right for the hazard and reduces exposure to the level required to protect the wearer’s health.
  • Suitable RPE is right for the wearer, task and environment, such that the wearer can work freely and without additional risks due to the RPE.

HSG53 and INDG479

Two of the most important documents to support face fit testing are

  • HSG53 A practical guide to respiratory protective equipment at work
  • INDG47 Guidance on respiratory protective equipment (RPE) fit testing.

Both have a legal status and are best practice to follow. Produced by the British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) is a companion document to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) INDG 479. The purpose of the companions is to provide complementary practical guidance to the requirements set out in HSE INDG 479 on conducting fit testing in the Qualitative method.

In these documents you will find the relevant INDG 479 requirements and beneath that, complementary Fit2Fit guidance on the practical elements to deliver effective fit testing. Following this guidance is recommended to ensure the correct application of the fit test method.

What is FIT2FIT?

Face Fit testing should be conducted by a competent person. Competence can be demonstrated by accreditation under the Fit2Fit RPE Fit Test Providers Accreditation Scheme. This scheme has been developed by the BSIF, together with industry stakeholders, and is supported by HSE.

Does one size mask fit all?

The performance of tight-fitting face pieces depends on achieving a good contact between the wearer’s skin and the face seal of the face piece. People’s faces vary significantly in shape and size so it is unlikely that one model or size of RPE face piece will fit everyone. Inadequate fit will significantly reduce the protection provided to the wearer. Any reduction in protection may lead to immediate or long-term ill health or can even put the RPE wearer’s life in danger.

If it is not possible for the wearer to obtain an adequate fit with the first choice of face piece you should attempt fit testing using an alternative make, model or size of tight-fitting face piece.

How is Face fit testing conducted?

Qualitative fit testing (QLFT) is a pass/fail test based on the wearer’s subjective assessment of any leakage through the face seal region by detecting the introduction of bitter- or sweet-tasting aerosol as a test agent. This is often referred to a Bitrex or Saccharin Fit Test Solutions

Qualitative face fit testing methods are suitable for FFP masks and half masks; they are not suitable for full-face masks. Although this type of test is based on subjective detection and response by the wearer of the RPE, it is important that it is administered by a fit tester competent in using this method.

Quantitative fit testing (QNFT) provides a numerical measure of how well a face piece seals against a wearer’s face; this is called a fit factor. These tests give an objective measure of face fit. Quantitative face fit testing is the only method suitable for Full face masks however you can also test FFPs and Half masks using this method. 

  • Ambient particle counting (APC)
  • Controlled negative pressure (CNP)

Face Fit Testing Demonstration

Why not watch our short video which demonstrates how quantitative face fit testing is conducted?

What is the face fit testing exercises?



(i) Normal breathing

The wearer should breathe normally with no head movements or talking.

(ii) Deep breathing

The wearer should breathe slowly and deeply, taking care not to hyperventilate.

(iii) Turning head side to side

The wearer should slowly turn their head from side to side between the extreme positions on each side (approximately 15–20 times per minute). The head shall be held at each ex-treme momentarily, so the wearer can inhale at each side.

(iv) Moving head up and down

The wearer should slowly move their head up and down (approximately 15–20 times per minute). The wearer should be instructed to inhale in the up position (ie when looking to-ward the ceiling).

(v) Talking

The wearer should talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard clearly by the fit tester. The wearer should read from a stand-ard reading passage or count down from 100.

(vi) Bending over

From a normal standing position, the wearer should bend at the waist as if to touch their toes and then return to an upright position. Repeat approximately 10–15 times throughout the duration of the exercise.

(vii) Normal breathing

Same as exercise (i).

Can I learn to face fit test?

Sunbelt Rentals offer a range of face fit training courses to suit the method of testing you wish to conduct. Though years of experience we can provide knowledge on how to conduct Qualitative, Quantitative and CNP face fit testing methods along with the option for mentoring, coaching and shadowing new testers to ensure they remain compliant whilst gaining experience.

Sunbelt rentals has the following courses available:

  • Qualitative Face Fit Training
  • Quantitative Face Fit Training
  • RPE Inspection and Maintenance Training
  • RPE Users Training

Attendance or assessment conducted as part of any training course does not imply individual delegates will receive Fit2Fit fit tester accreditation status.

Only by successfully completing a Fit2Fit assessment arranged via the Fit2Fit Scheme can an individual gain Fit2Fit Accredited Status.

By attending an approved course confirms the training material as assessed by Fit2Fit and submitted for approval by the provider covers all the points required in the Fit2Fit syllabus and is presented to the student in an appropriate manner.

What is the difference between tight- and loose-fitting face pieces?

Respirators and BA are available in a range of different styles, which can be put into two main groups:

  • Tight-fitting face pieces (often referred to as masks) - rely on having a good seal with the wearer’s face. These are available as both non-powered and powered respirators and BA. Examples are filtering face pieces, half and full-face masks.
  • Loose-fitting face pieces – rely on enough clean air being provided to the wearer to prevent contaminant leaking in (only available as powered respirators or BA). Examples are hoods helmets, visors, blouses and suits.

How long does a face fit test last?

A fit test certificate typically lasts for 1-2 years depending on your RPE policy or program. The regulations state face fit tests should be repeated whenever there is a change to the RPE type, size, model or material or whenever there is a change to the circumstances of the wearer that could alter the fit of the RPE; for example:

  • weight loss or gain;
  • substantial dental work;
  • any facial changes (scars, moles, effects of ageing etc.) around the face seal area;
  • facial piercings;
  • Introduction or change in other head-worn personal protective equipment (PPE).

As part an RPE programme, it is good practice to have a system in place to review when a repeat fit test may be required. Sunbelt Safety recommends that a suitable interval for repeat fit testing is annually as in some situations RPE is being used as a primary or sole means of control.

What is the difference between negative and positive pressure respirators?

A negative-pressure respirator refers to any tight-fitting respirator in which the air pressure inside the face mask is negative during inhalation with respect to air pressure outside the respirator. It retains particulate matters while the contaminated air is passing through it. Because air pressure outside the mask is higher than inside the mask, any seal leak or improper fit will pull in air and expose workers to potential hazards.

Positive pressure respirators may be equipped with a facepiece that fits tightly against the wearer's face or a loose-fitting hood or helmet. This air supply creates positive pressure within the breathing zone of the wearer preventing ambient air from entering even in the event of a leak the two main types of positive-pressure respirators are pressure-demand and continuous flow.

Does positive pressure SCBA require face fit testing?

Studies have shown that during heavy exertion, it is possible for the pressure inside the facepiece to momentarily become negative in relation to the outside atmosphere. If the face seal is not good this could result in inward leakage of extremely hazardous air.

How often should SCBA face pieces be fit tested?

SCBA is mainly used as a primary or sole means of protection and control. Contained within the INDG479 Companion (considering the Legal status of HSE guidance) Primary source of protections should be tested annually.

What is a face fit certificate?

A fit test report will be produced following each successful fit test. The user will receive a detailed explanation of the results. Captured on the report will be:

  • The name of person fit tested
  • The make, model, material and size of the face piece
  • The type of filters fitted to the face piece during the fit test
  • The presence or absence of in-face piece spectacles
  • The make and model of any PPE and/or RPE accessory worn during the fit test
  • Whether the face piece used was the subject’s issued face piece, a company pool face piece or a test face piece
  • The test exercises performed during the fit test
  • The fit test method
  • For quantitative tests, the measured fit factor for each individual test exercise and the overall fit factor
  • The pass level used in the test
  • The result of the fit test in terms of a pass or fail
  • The date of the test and date of retest
  • The details of the person who performed the test, name of firm, address etc.

Face Fit testing Beards?

A fit test cannot be conducted if there is any hair growth between the wearer’s skin and the face piece of the mask. The HSE conducted research into the effects of Facial hair called the RR1052 research report. It shows that after 24hrs of shaving the seal of the mask was significantly reduced.

A trimmed goatee beard and moustache inside the seal of the mask maybe acceptable in some industries.


Do you want to know more about face testing? Take a look at our information and FAQs blog or get in touch with our team.

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Contact Sunbelt Rentals for all your face fit testing requirements. We offer training and testing nationwide get in touch today.
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