Fit testing face masks to avoid transmission during Covid-19
This guidance is in line with Health and Safety Executive guidelines and provides temporary information on fit testing face masks to avoid transmission during the Covid-19 pandemic.
On this page
- HSE temporary guidance
- How to fit test during Covid-19 pandemic
- Minimise the risk of transmission
- Departmental Responsible Persons Register
Tight-fitting respirators (such as disposable FFP3 masks and reusable half masks) rely on having a good seal with the wearer’s face.
This guidance is in line with Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines and provides temporary information (subject to review) on fit testing face masks to avoid transmission during the Covid-19 pandemic. It will assist departments manage the use of Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) in the workplace.
Tight-fitting respirators (such as disposable FFP3 masks and reusable half masks) rely on having a good seal with the wearer’s face. To ensure that respiratory protective equipment (RPE) will protect the wearer:
- A face fit test should be carried out the first time a worker uses a particular type of respirator.
- The wearer should carry out a pre-use seal check or fit check, which they should repeat every time they put a respirator on.
When carrying out a face fit test during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, testers and wearers should take additional measures to minimise the risk of transmission.
The user should then carry out a pre-use seal check or fit check. The following poster and video give guidance on how to put on disposable respirators and how to do a pre-use seal check or fit check.
People who have symptoms of Covid-19 or are isolating in accordance with government guidance should not attend a face fit test.
To minimise the risk of transmission of Covid-19 during face-fit testing the following additional measures should be taken:
- Fit testers should follow staying alert and safe (social distancing), as they can make observations from this distance and deliver any instructions verbally.
- Those being fitted should keep their respirators on if closer observation is required to minimise risk to testers
- Both the fit tester and those being fit tested should wash or sanitise their hands before and after the test in accordance with NHS guidelines
- Those being fit tested with non-disposable masks should clean the mask themselves before and immediately after the test using a suitable disinfectant cleaning wipe (check with manufacturer to avoid damaging the mask)
- Test facepieces that cannot be adequately disinfected (e.g. disposable half masks) should not be used by more than one individual
- Fit testers should wear disposable gloves (single use, splash resistant) when undertaking cleaning of the tubes, hoods etc. and ensure they remove gloves following the correct procedure
- Immediately dispose of used gloves, disposable masks, cleaning wipes etc in a waste bin
Actions to minimise transmission
Fit testers should familiarise themselves with the following potential contact points and actions to minimise transmission:
|Contact points||Action to minimise transmission|
|Disposable RPE (mask)||Wash or sanitise hands before and after the test in accordance with NHS guidelines|
|Inside and outside of non-disposable RPE (mask)||For non-disposable masks the wearer should clean the inside and outside of the mask using a suitable disinfectant cleaning wipe under the fit tester’s instruction and supervision|
|Inside and outside (where held) of hood used for qualitative fit tests||The fit tester should clean the inside and outside (where held) of the hood between each test using a suitable disinfectant wipe that will not damage the visor and wearing disposable gloves|
|Filters||Although the wearer's exhaled air does not pass through the filters used when testing half and full facemasks, they may be re-used and handled between tests and so should be wiped using a suitable disinfectant cleaning wipe|
UCL Departments are required to identify their trained and experienced departmental face-fit testers and record them in the riskNET Departmental Responsible Persons Register. Due to limited on-site availability of face fit testers during COVID-19 pandemic, departments are encouraged to share resources with other departments who may have face fit testers available on site. To identify available FaceFit testers in neighbouring departments, responsible persons should follow the steps: riskNET < Responsible Persons < Analysis Reports < search FaceFit tester
> riskNET (UCL Login required)
Video Tutorial: Access and update Responsible Persons Register in riskNET
Last updated: Tuesday, March 30, 2021
> UCL Safety Services - Covid-19 Health and Safety Guidance
> UCL - Keeping safety on campus
> HSE - Respiratory Protective Equipment basics
> HSE - RPE Covid-19 update
> HSE - Using disposable respirators (pdf)
> HSE - How to fit your Respiratory Protective Equipment (video)
> HSE - Steps on correct removal of gloves (pdf)