IESS - A guide to Face Fit Testing

19 Jan 2016


We are now taking face fit testing bookings for 2016.  Reserve your date today! Visit for more details.


A Guide to Face Fit Testing


 If you are using RPE with tight-fitting facepieces you should make sure each wearer has a fit test.  This is needed to ensure the selected facepiece can fit the wearer correctly.


You can use the fit test as a training opportunity, as it allows you to highlight to the wearer the consequences of poor fit and improper use on the effectiveness of the RPE device.


It is also good practice to have a system to ensure repeat fit testing is carried out on a regular basis. This is especially important when RPE is used frequently as a primary means of exposure control, eg annual testing for workers involved in licensed asbestos removal. If there are any changes to a person’s face through, for example, weight loss/gain, scars etc, a repeat fit test will be necessary.




Qualitative fit testing


 Qualitative fit testing is a pass/fail test based on the wearer’s subjective assessment of any leakage from the face seal region, by sensing the introduction of a test agent. These tests are suitable for half masks. They are not suitable for full face masks.


Examples of qualitative fit testing methods are:


■ method based on bitter- or sweet-tasting aerosol;

■ method based on odour compounds.


We use the Bitrex (bitter tasting solution) to conduct our Qualitative Tests


The wearer dons their RPE as per usual and then dons the test hood


The test solution is then sprayed via a nebuliser into the hood


The subject must perform a series of exercises in order; confirming whether they can taste/smell the test agent during each 60 second exercise.  They are;


Normal Breathing

Deep Breathing

Turning head side to side

Moving head up and down


Bending Over

Normal Breathing


If at any point the subject detects the taste/smell of the test agent then the test must be stopped and noted as a failure.


The mask must be checked and if necessary adjusted accordingly; a period of 15 minut