Face fit testing

Face fit testing checks whether a person's protective mask fits the shape and size of their face. When worn correctly, Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) can protect the wearer from airborne hazards including particulates, dusts, gases and more.

RPS is an independent supplier of RPE services including Face Fit Testing and Breathing Air Quality Testing, and we advise and consult with our clients on both RPE and its current legislation. However, we have no affiliation with any RPE manufacturer or distributor.

How Face Fit Testing works

A Face Fit Test should be carried out before anyone in the workplace wears RPE for the first time. As different people have faces with varying shapes and sizes, it's unlikely that any one particular type or size of mask will be fit for everyone. Face Fit Testing ensures that the equipment selected will be suitable for the wearer. A major cause of leaks is poor fit. A mask needs to be tight-fitting to the wearer's face to be effective and inadequate fit could reduce the protection it provides, leading to long-term ill health.

At RPS, we focus on quantitative face fit testing. The main difference between quantitative and qualitative mask fit testing is that the former testing method objectively measures the amount of potential leakage (quantity), giving the wearer a fit factor score. Qualitative testing on the other hand, relies subjectively on the wearer's taste and smell, and their ability to detect leakage.

If you are considering Face Fit Testing for your staff and colleagues, you may be wondering what sort of process they might expect and how long it would take. You can find out more about this below.

Getting on site

We usually allow for around half an hour to set up, ensuring the room is safe to conduct the testing and that all our equipment is calibrated and ready to work. The quantitative method uses the TSI Portacount® machine, which measures both the ambient particle concentrations outside the mask as well as those inside it. This produces a Fit Factor, which is a ratio calculated as the ambient concentration divided by the in-mask concentration. This Fit Factor indicates how well the mask fits and how effective it is for the wearer. This method is in line with HSE document INDG479 revision 1 and COSHH regulation 7.

Before we begin testing on your colleagues, we would request the following from you:

  • All testing subjects must be clean shaven
  • Subjects should not have been smoking for at least one hour before the test
  • No eating or drinking is allowed (except water for a few minutes before the test)
  • Subjects must have items with them that will be needed to be worn for the test i.e. PPE, glasses etc.

Despite the recent easing of many Covid-19 restrictions, we acknowledge that some client sites still have some restrictions in place. In order to comply, we shall continue to maintain a high standard of hygiene, use face masks where necessary, and follow any social distancing measures.

Understanding Face Fit Testing stages

There are numerous different stages to this test, and they are designed to recreate a normal working day. The test requires a step to be used and is slightly physical in its nature. Our consultants would therefore ensure that your colleagues are ready to complete the test safely before commencing.

Test subjects will be requested to put on their masks and will then be asked to complete the following steps as illustrated below:


Face Fit Testing Stages

Please be aware if any of the stages above show a fail, they would need to be completed again. Test success will result in individual certification being sent to each colleague after completion. In total, it should take less than 20 minutes to complete a test, but we do need longer between appointments to clean down the equipment (as per our Covid-19 protocols). Therefore, we currently allow 25-30 minutes in total per person. 


Face Fit Testing in action

Have a look at the Face Fit Testing process and our services in action, in this informative video.


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Ben Massey

Business Development - Occupational Health & Hygiene T: +44 (0) 1235 437 100 Email
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Milton Keynes | UK

Matt Bates

Technical Director - Occupational Hygiene T: +44 (0) 1235 437 100 Email
Milton Keynes | UK

Tracey Bailey

Business Development Manager - Occupational Hygiene T: +44 1235 437 100 Email
Milton Keynes | UK

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Get in touch

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