Our Soles offer Qualitative Face Fit-Testing services for half-face respirators and disposable FFP masks.

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Book your fit-testing with us and receive a 25% discount* on all RPE added to your order.

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Everything you need to know about qualitative Fit-Testing...

What is Qualitative Fit-Testing?

Qualitative fit-testing is a test that passes or fails depending on the employee's reaction to a test agent.

The employee will be tested with their current respiratory mask & be given a fit testing hood to wear. The administrator will then spray a test aerosol into the hood, the employee will then perform instructed exercises when wearing the mask & hood. If he/she can taste the test agent, the respirator fails the test.

Before the test, the employee will be tested to see if he/she can ordinarily taste the test agent. If not a different agent will be used. The procedure requires around 15-20 minutes.

Why is Fit-Testing a legal requirement?

Fit testing is vital for an employee's health, by testing the respiratory mask the employee wears you can determine whether they’re safe when working. This can help stop some long-term illnesses and lung problems.

There are numerous substances that can cause someone harm if they enter that person's body. For example:

  • – Dusty or fume-laden air can cause lung diseases, especially in welders, quarry workers & woodworkers.
  • – Metalworking fluids can grow bacteria and fungi which cause dermatitis and asthma
  • – Flowers, bulbs, fruit and veg can cause dermatitis
  • – Benzene in crude oil can cause leukaemia
  • – Exposure to certain sensitising agents can cause asthma

Many other substances that can be found in common products have a chance of being harmful, such as paint, ink, glue, lubricant, detergent and beauty products.

What the law says about Respiratory Protective Equipment.

The laws that govern the control of harmful and dangerous substances in the workplace say that you should only use RPE after all the reasonably practicable measurements have been taken to prevent or control the exposure of dangerous substances. By going through the risk assessment process which is required by laws, you can determine whether the use of RPE is necessary.

You should be using RPE:

  • – Where an inhalation exposure risk remains after you have put in place other reasonable controls
  • – While you are putting other control measurements in place
  • – For emergency work or temporary failure of controls where other means of control are not reasonably practicable
  • – For short term or infrequent exposure, such as maintenance work, where you decide that other controls at the source of the exposure are not reasonably practicable

Employers need to make sure the selected RPE is the right size and correctly fits the wearer. For tight-fitting facepieces the initial selection must include a fit test. In addition, you must ensure that reusable RPE undergoes thorough examination and, where appropriate, testing at suitable intervals. This should be monthly or every three months if used less frequently. This will not only make sure the RPE protects the wearer but will also extend the life of the equipment and so maximises your investment.

Recording the RPE examinations and test, and where appropriate, any repairs made help you to keep track of the equipment’s maintenance. You should test the quality of air supplied to breathing apparatus at least once every 3 months.

For RPE to remain effective, you should integrate its use into normal workplace activities. You should also ensure that ROE is used according to the manufacturer’s instructions, as poor working practices or improper use can significantly reduce its effectiveness.

Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) Explained

RPE is a particular type of personal protective equipment (PPE) designed to protect the wearer from inhaling dangerous substances. Some RPE is designed to be used in oxygen deficient atmosphere when other controls are either not possible or insufficient individually.

Respirators must not be used in oxygen deficient atmospheres, this requires a different kind of specialised RPE.

There are two main types or RPE, there are respirators and breathing apparatus.

  • Respirators (filtering devices)
    - Non-powered-respirators - relying on the wearer’s breathing to draw in air via the filter
    - Powered respirators - using a motor to pass air through the filter to supply clean air
  • Breathing apparatus
    - Needs a supply of breathable air from an independent source like an air cylinder or compressor.

Respirators & Breathing apparatus are available in a range of styles, these styles are divided into two main groups

  • Tight fitting facepieces (masks)
    - Rely on having a good seal with the wearers face. These are available as both non-powered and powered respirators & breathing apparatus. A face fit test needs to be carried out to ensure the RPE can fully protect the wearer.
  • Loose fitting facepieces
    - Rely on enough clean air being provided to the wearer to prevent contaminant leaking in. This is only available as powered respirators or breathing apparatus. Some examples are hoods, helmets, visors, blouses and suits.

What mask is the correct mask?

There are many different types of masks & filters, so how do you know which ones you should use?
To select the correct RPE there are a few things that need to be identified.
The RPE needs to be both adequate and suitable. This means:
Adequate - It is right for the hazard and reduces exposure to the level required to protect the wearers health.
Suitable - It is right for the wearer, task and environment such that the wearer can work freely and without additional risks due to the RPE.

To select the appropriate RPE for the wearer, there needs to be an understanding of:

  • – The hazardous substance and the amount of it in the air
  • – The form of the substance in the air (gas, particle, vapour)
  • – They type of work being carried out
  • – Any specific wearer requirements, such as other PPE or a need for glasses

Steps to selecting the appropriate respiratory protection:

Step one - Identify the Hazard

  • – Dust - Solid particles of several sizes generated by crushing solid materials.
  • – Mist - Particles of evaporated liquid (water or organic basis).
  • – Fumes - Small size particles of evaporated or melted solids, generally coming from combustion.

All solid particles need a mechanical and electrostatic filter: FFP1/P2/P3

  • Gas & Vapours - Substances that are normally airborne. Could be fluid generated by the passage from liquid or solid status to airborne, through evaporation or boiling.

All airborne substances need an activated charcoal filter: A/B/E/K or a combined filter.

Step two - Identify the Toxic Agent

This can be done by checking the agent’s CAS NR and seeing the level of protection stated.
Toxic Agents Guideline - CAS NR Table

Step three - Identify the Concentration & Compare with the Exposure Limit

(TLV = Contaminant concentration to which the user may be exposed without health effects).

  • – Threshold Limit Value - Time weighted average (TLV - TWA): Average exposure on the basis of an 8 hour day, 40 hours week work schedule.
  • – Threshold Limit Value - Short Term Exposure Limit (TLV - STEL): Spot exposure for a duration of 15 minutes, that cannot be repeated more than 4 time per day with at least 60 minutes between exposure periods.
  • – Threshold Limit Value - Ceiling limit (TLV - C): Absolute exposure limit that should not be exceeded at any time.

Step four - Select the Type of protection

Filtration Selection Guide

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*25% discount only applies to respiratory products added to your order following your fit-test, expires after 30 days of your fit-test and due to Corvid 19 critical stock shortages this offer is also subject to available stock at time of booking.