Quantitative Face Fit Testing
Quantitative tests can be used to fit test all types of tight-fitting masks including FFP’s (disposable), half and full face masks.
Quantitative tests can give an objective assessment of facial fit and provide a direct numerical result called a Fit Factor.
The most widely-used quantitative method for RPE fit testing is the Particle Counting method, a title ascribed to the TSI Portacount Plus. The Portacount Plus measures the number of ambient particles inside and outside a face piece and proves a numerical result which is the ratio of the two over a given test period. For more details on test exercises and pass levels go to the HSE INDG 479 protocol.
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Why Quantitative Face Fit Testing?
Quantitative testing is required for all tight fitting respirators, including full face masks.
There are several methods of quantitative testing, the most commonly used is ‘particle counting’ using a machine called a TSI Portacount – which is what we use. This counts the number of microscopic dust particles in the ambient air and compares this to the number of dust particles inside the mask. The machine is connected to the mask with a plastic sample tube. During the test the wearer carries out a series of exercises designed to simulate movement expected in the workplace (e.g. moving head side to side, up and down, and talking out loud). The machine detects particles leaking into the mask and at the end of the test indicates whether the test is a pass or fail.
Who needs Quantitative Face Fit Testing?
Any person who wears a full-face self-contained respiratory mask or compressed air breathing apparatus
What does the face fit testing involve?
Face fit is a series of tests and exercises emulating a full range of facial movement to ensure an adequate seal is maintained. The test is laid out as such:
- Normal breathing
- Deep breathing
- Head side to side
- Head up and down
- Bending over
- Talk out loud (reading a passage of text)
- Normal breathing
All exercises (except bending over) are carried out while stepping on and off a low step
How to prepare for your face fit test
Several things could affect the results of your face fit test, due to the accuracy of the equipment. These include, but are not limited to:
- Facial hair (see below)
- Long hair (will need to be tied back)
It is also recommended that you do not smoke, eat or drink for at least 1 hour prior to the test.
Facial hair, stubble and beards make it extremely difficult to get a good seal. If there are good reasons for having a beard (i.e. for religious reasons) alternative forms of RPE, that do not rely on a tight fit to the face are available: i.e. full hooded masks.