What Is a Face Fit Test? Do you need one if you have an asbestos training certificate?

When people book asbestos awareness training or asbestos non licensed removal training one of the questions we are asked is, what is a face fit test? That’s then followed by the next question, do I need one?

What you should be asking is do I need to wear personal respiratory equipment (RPE / protective face mask) to give me protection from the risk of being exposed to asbestos.

Asbestos awareness training is designed to reduce the risk of asbestos exposure so it would be unlikely that you would ever need to wear respiratory protection. Asbestos awareness training is not suitable to allow you to work on asbestos products and as such would not need to wear RPE for that purpose. However, if you are working somewhere where there could be a risk of asbestos exposure you may need, benefit or just feel safer wearing RPE. If that’s the case and you choose to have respiratory protection, then you will by law require a face fit test.

Asbestos non licensed training for working with asbestos means that you will or are planning to work with asbestos. By law you will require respiratory protective equipment and that means that by law you must have a face fit test.

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What is a face fit test?

There are various types of respiratory equipment on the market. Disposable, non-disposable, half mask and full face. The list is extensive. The shapes and sizes differ, and it makes sense that peoples shapes and sizes also differ. Here lies the challenge. How do you know which respiratory protection to choose and how can you check to see if it’s suitable and it’s actually doing what it is supposed to do. That’s what a face fit test is. It is a test of a specific RPE for a specific wearer. This then gives a certificate which confirms that the right RPE for the job has been chosen and that it fits the wearer perfectly. It ensures that anyone wearing RPE is being protected as the RPE is designed to do. If you do not have a face fit test there is no way of knowing if the wearer is protected. It’s also required by law.

When should I have a face fit test?

face fit testingA good time to have face fit testing is during or directly after your asbestos awareness training or your non licensed asbestos removal training. The reason for this is that the course tutor can give you guidance on RPE selection and help you with knowing how to wear RPE correctly. Once you have had your face fit test you will have a certificate which is the legal requirement in conjunction with appropriate asbestos training.

How long does a face fit test last?

If you have had asbestos awareness training or asbestos non licensed removal training, you will be ware that the asbestos training is good for 12 months. However, the asbestos training must be refreshed annually. The face fit test is the same. HSE recommends that face fit testing is recommended every 12 months. We find it works well for people to book in their face fit test again when they undertake their asbestos awareness training refresher or asbestos non licensed removal training refresher. You may need to have a face fit test refreshed earlier if you change type of RPE or you have a physical change which could affect the fitting of your chosen RPE.

Can I book the face fit testing when I book my asbestos awareness training?

face fit testingYes. When you book your asbestos awareness training, or your non licensed asbestos removal training just ask a member of the team and they will book in the face fit tester to be present when you do your asbestos training. In addition you can also request RPE to be provided so that when you leave the training course you will have your asbestos training certificate, your face fit test certificate and your RPE. All ready to go.

Where can I find more information on face fit testing?

This has been an introduction to face fit testing for those about to under take asbestos awareness training or asbestos non licensed removal training. If you speak to a member of the team they will talk you through the whole process of face fit testing and will be able to answer any of your questions. Alternatively there is a more detailed section of our website on face fit testing, where you will find detailed information and answers to most of the questions we are asked about face fit testing.

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Written by Jess Scott

Jess Scott has been an all-round asbestos consultant since 1996. That’s nearly 3 decades of asbestos knowledge. He spends his time sharing that knowledge with the team at Oracle and with their clients. Jess's goal is, and always has been, to use my expertise in helping people to comply with the law. This legal compliance ultimately helps to protect everyone from the harmful effects of asbestos. Jess has acted as an asbestos expert witness in legal cases and is involved in many asbestos educational activities throughout the UK.