Qualitative tests rely on the wearer’s taste response to detect face seal leakage of a test agent (Bitter or Sweet). The Qualitative method requires the same seven-test exercise protocol as other methods as described in INDG 479, but can only be employed for fit testing of filtering facepieces (disposable masks) and half masks, not full-face masks. This method involves a ‘Sensitivity Test’ and ‘Fit Test’ step which must both be conducted with the same test agent.
WHO SHOULD ATTEND? If you wear respiratory protective equipment (RPE), then it is essential that you have documentary evidence to show the RPE fits the wearer. By subjecting each wearer to a face-fit test you can be sure that your organisation is meeting and fulfilling the requirements laid out in the Health & Safety Executives (HSE) guidance INDG479 and HSE53.
WHEN SHOULD A TEST BE CARRIED OUT? A Fit Test can be carried out in the initial stages of selecting RPE, where an untested face piece is already in use or when the wearer has any significant facial changes (weight gain or loss, etc). Fit testing does not need to be done annually but it is recommended that face piece wearers receive annual refresher training covering the selection, use & maintenance of their face mask. The training is specific to each person and includes:
How to check the mask is working properly before use
How to check the mask still fits ‘Fit Test Check’
Advantages and disadvantages of the masks being used
Please note that in order for the face fit tests to work, the trainee MUST NOT eat, drink or smoke for at least 30 minutes before the test is performed. They must also be clean-shaven as stubble will prevent a good seal and the face fit test will fail. Failure to adopt this requirement will result in the person NOT being tested.
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