In the UK the Approved Codes of Practices (ACOPs) supporting the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH), the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations (CAW) and the Control of Lead at Work Regulations (CLAW) require that wearers of tight fitting respirators are fit tested. Fit testing is a means of checking that a respirator facepiece matches a person's facial features and seals adequately to their face. There are several methods available and the Health and Safety Executive's information document INDG 479 provides information on how the HSE expect fit testing to be conducted.
Find information to help users perform their everyday seal check test.
Does Respirator Fit Matter?
At 3M, we think that the answer to that question is “Yes”. In a workplace environment, if a worker’s respirator doesn’t seal properly on the wearers face, there’s no certainty that it is providing the expected level of protection. A good fit means the respirator (also known as a face mask) will seal against your skin. A “tight fitting” respirator, such as a filtering facepiece respirator/disposable respirator, or a reusable respirator such as a half mask of full face mask can only work when air passes through the filter. Air will take the path of least resistance, so if the seal to the face isn’t there, the air will leak around, rather than go through the respirator, and therefore lessen the protection. One of the common issues with good respirator fit is facial air.
Close fitting respirators need to seal tightly to the face. Gaps in this face seal let the dirty air leak inside the respirator. Respirator filters cannot clean the air leaking through the face seal.
It is known that the growth of stubble and facial hair can give significant leak paths for contaminants. For further information on this topic please see the HSE's research report: RR1052 The effect of wearer stubble on the protection given by Filtering Facepieces Class 3 (FFP3) and Half Masks.
Face seal leakage reduces the wearer's protection.
Fit testing is a means of checking that a respirator facepiece matches a person’s facial features and seals adequately to their face. There are several methods available and the Health and Safety Executive’s information document INDG 479 provides information on how the HSE expect fit testing to be conducted.
The performance of tight fitting respirators relies on achieving a good seal between the facepiece of the respirator and the wearer’s face. If the seal is inadequate, contaminated air will take the path of least resistance and will travel through leaks in the face seal. Consequently, a poor seal to the face will reduce the level of protection provided to the wearer. Fit testing should be carried out by a competent person. One way of demonstrating competence is to be become Fit2Fit accredited.
Do you have workers who wear tight fitting respirators (those that rely on a seal with the face) such as Disposable, Half Mask or Full Face Masks (including those fitted to a powered or supplied air respirator)? If so, you are required to fit test them. HSE requires qualitative or quantitative fit testing before a user wears a tight fitting facepiece.
In addition, fit tests should be:
A good fit means the respirator will seal to your facial features. A respirator can only work when air passes through the filter. Air will take the path of least resistance, so if the seal isn't there, the air will go around rather than through the respirator - and therefore the reduce the protection provided.
Fit testing is required for employees wearing tight-fighting respirators, such as disposable or reusable respirators. This procedure helps ensure the user has selected the correct size respirator and that a seal against the face can be made in order to provide the expected protection.
A user seal check ensures the tight-fitting respirator is being worn right each time the user puts on the respirator.
Users can either perform a positive-pressure or negative-pressure seal check as described in the product User Instructions.
Safety glasses, hearing protection, face shields, hard hats and coveralls can all vie with a respirator for real estate on a person's face, head or body, potentially interfering with the respirator seal.
To catch these problems before they happen any PPE that could interfere with the respirator's seal should be worn during the fit test.
View our online catalog of products to help you run a successful fit testing program.
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There are lots, and it is important to check what is applicable in your location. Please contact your local 3M office if you need guidance. Examples of fit test regulations and standards include: ISO-16975-3 (global), EN 529, HSG53 and INDG479 (United Kingdom), DGUV Regel 112-190(Germany), UNI 11719:2018 (Italy), INRS ED 6273 (France)
OSHA 29 CFR 1910.134 Appendix A (United States)
CSA Z220.127.116.11 (Canada)
AS/NZS1715 (Australia and New Zealand)
This is not an exhaustive list, so please check local rules and regulation.
Particulates, gases and vapours can bypass facial hair that is preventing an adequate seal and still expose the wearer. Click here (PDF, 279 KB) to learn more
No, but they can be fit tested using the Qualitative (Taste) methods or Quantitative CNC or APC (condensation nuclei counter, or Ambient Particle Counting) methods.
3M Bayonet Style Respirators - 3M 601 FT Adapter for use with :
3M™Half Mask 6000 Series
3M™Half Mask 6500 Series
3M™Half Mask 7500 Series
3M™Full Face Mask 6000 Series
3M™ Secure-Click™ Style - 3M HF-800-03 for use with:
3M™Half Mask HF800 Series Secure Click
DIN40 Style Respirators- SC-6611 for use with:
3M™ Half Mask HF-300 (formerly AVIVA 40)
3M™ Full Face Mask FF-300 (formerly Promask)
3M™ Full Face Mask FF-600 (formerly Vision)
3M™ Full Face Mask FF-600F (formerly RFF4000)
3M™ FM-931-RAS (converted to a negative pressure mode PP Blanking Plug (RHS)
DIN50 with motor - PV-3804 for use with:
Demand Valve - Fit test Adaptor for Quickfit connections - for use with:
3M™ Scott™ Promask PP
3M™ Scott™ Vision 3
3M™ Vision RAS (converted to a negative pressure mode 40mm Blanking Plug (LHS)
As the 3M™ 4251+, 4255+, 4277+ and 4279+ are half mask respirators, they can be fit tested with qualitatively or quantitatively. Due to their distinctive design, If fit test quantitatively, they need to be probed, using the same method as filtering facepiece respirators. Contact 3M for more details.
3M™ Qualitative Fit Testing
3M™ Quantitative Fit Testing
3M™ Aura™ 9300+Gen3 Particulate Respirators - Fitting
3M™ Aura™ 9300+ Series Particulate Respirators - Fitting
3M™ Particulate Respirators 8000 & 9000 Series - Fitting
3M™ Aura™ 9400+ Series Particulate Respirators - Fitting
3M™ Particulate Respirator 8825+ & 8835+ - Fitting
3M™ Particulate Respirator 9925 - Fitting
3M™ Secure Click™ Half Mask Fitting
3M™ Half Mask 4000+ Series Fitting
3M™ Half Mask 6500QL Series Fitting
3M™ Half Mask 7500 Series Fitting
3M™ Half Mask 6000 Series Fitting
3M™ Full Face Mask 6000 Series Fitting
3M™ Aura™ 9300+Gen3 Particulate Respirators - Importance of Fit Poster (PDF, 1.13 MB)
3M™ Aura™ 9300+ Series Particulate Respirators - Importance of Fit Poster (PDF, 696 KB)
3M™ Secure Click™ Half Mask Importance of Fit Poster (PDF, 1.14 MB)
3M™ Half Mask 4000+ Series Importance of Fit Poster (PDF, 899 KB)
3M™ Half Mask 6500QL Series Importance of Fit Poster (PDF, 888 KB)
3M™ Half Mask 7500 Series Importance of Fit Poster (PDF, 887 KB)
3M™ Full Face Mask 6000 Series Importance of Fit Poster (PDF, 2.6 MB)
3M™ Particulate Respirators 8000 Series - Importance of Fit Poster (PDF, 2.3 MB)
3M™ Particulate Respirators 8300 Series - Importance of Fit Poster (PDF, 601 KB)
3M™ Particulate Respirators 8825+ / 8835+ Series - Importance of Fit Poster (PDF, 759 KB)
3M™ Aura™ Particulate Respirators 9400+ Series - Importance of Fit Poster (PDF, 708 KB)
3M™ Particulate Respirators Speciality Series - Importance of Fit Poster (PDF, 1.8 MB)
A Guide to Qualitative Fit Testing (PDF, 253 KB)