Face-fit Testing

What is face-fit testing?

Face fit testing is a requirement for all persons required to wear respiratory protective equipment (RPE) at work. RPE fit needs to be conducted by a competent person.

As people come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, it is unlikely that one particular type or size of RPE  will fit everyone. Face fit testing will ensure that the equipment selected is suitable for each wearer.

The Hazards

In the event that respiratory protective equipment (RPE) does not fit a worker, it is not protecting them when undertaking their work task.

Using the wrong filter will render the mask ineffective so wearers need to understand which filters do what.


Workers need to fully understand their RPE, they need to know how to clean it, care for it and where fitted, change the filters.

Blocked respirators, will affect the workers' ability to continue. Correctly storing RPE will ensure it remains reliable and


The mask wearer needs to be tested whilst performing a range of movements and activities. The mask needs to work with the wearer as they work, there is no benefit in testing a static person.

Persons with a beard, stubble, or facial cannot be tested, all testing must be conducted clean-shaven.

Who Should be Face-Fit Tested?





Hazmat suit and respirator transparent. Face-fit testing.


Site Visitors

Workers Creating Dust

Persons Working in Dusty Areas

What is Involved?

Face-fit testing usually takes around twenty minutes per test. Persons who use more than one type or RPE will need to have a test for each type they use.

Anyone undertaking a test must not smoke, eat, drink or chew gum for 15 minutes before the test, as this may affect the results.

The persons being tested should be clean-shaven and therefore must not have a beard or stubble where the mask seals to the face. This can affect the fit, some goatee beards could be ok but it depends where the mask sits on the wearer. Persons with longer sideburns could also have an issue. 

The test follows the seven key step listed here:

Normal breathing

Heavy breathing – Walking or stepping with the mask on

Turning the head from side to side

Moving the head up and down


More heavy breathing – Walking or stepping with the mask on

Back to normal breathing

Is Retesting Required?

Usually, for most people, some level of re-testing will be needed. The primary reasons for doing so include (but are not limited to):