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Face Fit Testing training support

Information and downloads to support your Face Fit testing. Please follow the guidelines below to conduct your Face Fit test safely and correctly. This page is restricted to UCL staff only.

Terms of use


Thank you for agreeing to Safety Services terms of use. You are free to download these documents.

Scheduling the test


Individuals requiring a test will check riskNET’s Departmental Responsible Persons Register. Please ensure your details are up to date.

riskNET (UCL Login required)

You are free to book individuals in blocks or individually. UCL trained Face Fit testers can only carry out Face Fit tests on UCL colleagues. Tests will take around 30 minutes each.

Book a room


Book an appropriate room to carry out testing. The room should:

  • Comfortably sit up to 3 people, with chairs and a table
  • Be close to a sink and tap water (kitchen/tea-point/toilets/welfare facilities nearby)
  • Have natural ventilation or functioning air conditioning
  • Have a mirror available nearby. Otherwise, bring a hand mirror or use a smart phone camera in ‘selfie’ mode

> Book a room at UCL

Before the test


Before you start the testing, please make sure you have the following :

  • Fit Test Kit (and alternative tasting solutions) bitter and sweet
  • Attendance Record and Face Fit Certificate for the test(s) about to be taken
  • Clock or watch with second hand or a mobile phone with stopwatch function
  • Jug of water and glasses 
  • Spare nebulisers (if possible, as these can get blocked)
  • Unused masks, enough for 1 per individual attending the session
  • Selection of alternative models in case of failures
  • Table (big enough to layout the Fit Test Kit)
  • Gloves to protect your hands from the test solution
  • Disinfectant wipes or similar for cleaning hood and nebulisers
  • Room with good ventilation to conduct Face Fit test and a separate area/room for people waiting
  • Room should be located near a toilet to allow hand/face washing after the test

> Download printable copy of Face Fit Test checklist

Conducting qualitative Face Fit tests


Step 1: Prepare the equipment


  • Facemask icon
    Assemble the test hood if not already assembled
  • Choose either bitter or sweet solutions and prepare the nebulisers – pour around 2ml (half a teaspoon) of solution into the appropriate nebuliser, i.e. sensitivity solution (red text) into the sensitivity nebuliser and fit test solution (black text) into the fit test nebuliser
  • Check both nebulisers are functioning by spraying against a dark background, you should see a fine mist

Step 2: Prepare participant


  • Face icon
    Register the participant: Complete the Attendance Record and Face Fit Test Certificate with the participant's details
  • Previous tests: Has the participant been tested before for this respirator? When was the test and what was the result
  • Explain process: Sensitivity test → Respirator guidance → Fit Test
  • Readiness: Has the participant eaten, smoked, vaped, drank or chewed gum within the last 30 minutes (unflavored water is okay) or do they have a cold or the flu that may affect taste
  • Explain Bitrex or Saccharine and ask if the participant has any allergies: Bitrex, saccharine, asthma, claustrophobia, latex gloves, nitrile gloves etc
  • Observe physical status: No facial hair, no wispy hair, no piercings, moles or glasses (glasses and goggles must be worn during the Face Fit test)
  • REMEMBER: You must send a signed copy of the Attendance Record to facefittestrequests@ucl.ac.uk

> Download Face Fit Test Attendance Record template
> Download Face Fit Test Certificate template

Step 3: Conduct sensitivity test


Conduct sensitivity test icon
Use Sensitivity Solution and matching nebuliser

Start with Bitter and only move to Sweet if Bitter is not detected after 30 squeezes

  • Place hood over participant – no respirator/mask is used at this point
  • Remind the participant to have their mouth open, tongue out a bit and to breathe through their mouth only
  • Ask the participant to recite the Rainbow Passage or count backward from 100, as long as it is loud and lasts 1 minute
  • Ask the participant to “tell you immediately when you can taste it”
  • Remove nebuliser covers and check nebuliser works. Then at slow pace:
    • 1 –   10 squeezes – if not tasted go to 2 (remind the participant to breathe through mouth)
    • 11 – 20 squeezes – if not tasted go to 3 (remind the participant to breathe through mouth)
    • 21 – 30 squeezes – STOP if not tasted (through mouth) – if this happens swap to the Sweet solution after the particpant’s mouth is reset and repeat above
  • Record which range the taste was detected and if it was Bitter or Sweet on Attendance Record
  • Clear palate – ask the participant to take a large glass of water → swill mouth and swallow.  The aim is to remove all taste of the Sensitive Test solution, if high score ask the participant  to wash their face as well
  • Leave at least 15 minutes before conducting Fit Test

> Download a printable copy of the Rainbow Passage

Step 4: Provide respirator guidance


Provide guidance icon
Use this time between Sensitive and actual Fit Test to provide guidance covering:
  • How to inspect
  • How to clean and maintain (for Reusable only)
  • How long to wear the mask (HSG 53 guidance 1 hour)
  • Disposal of Non-Reusable masks after 1 working shift
  • How to Don and Doff the mask (Doff can be done after the test)
  • Importance of no facial hair/no wispy hair
  • Awareness of the impact of piercings, moles, scars, glasses etc where relevant
  • Ask the participant to don glasses or PPE which might impact the mask fit
  • Watch the participant don the mask and do visual check – adjust when necessary – example straps
  • Conduct seal check
  • Record that mask was fitted and sealed by the participant without assistance on the Face Fit Test Certificate

How to carry out a Qualitative Fit Test - 3M (video)
Using Disposable Respirators - HSE (poster)

Step 5: Conduct the fit test


Play icon
Use the relevant Fit Test Solution and matching nebuliser:
  • Place hood over participant – ensure a chair I behind them for safety
  • Remind the participant to have mouth open and to breathe through their mouth only
  • Tell the participant to “tell you immediately when you can taste it” and inform them that if it is tasted the test is a Fail.
  • Remove nebuliser covers and check nebuliser works, Then at regular pace:
  • Start the test using relevant number of squeezed – 10, 20 or 30 sensitivity score
  • The participant performs tests 1 to 7 below for 1 minute
  • 30 seconds thereafter add half the sensitivity score – 5,10 or 15
  • If solution is not tasted after all 7 exercises, the individual has passed successfully. If at any stage during the fit test section (steps 12-16) they indicate they can taste solution, they have failed testing. Stop the test, ask them to drink some water, refit the same mask and repeat steps 12-16 again
  • If solution is still tasted on the second attempt, stop the test and try an alternative model of mask (repeating from step 12)
  • Record pass/fail status and any other information required on the Attendance Record and Test Certificate
  • Remove the hood
Fit test exercise

 

Sensitivity Level

Exercise:

 

1 to 10

11 to 20

21 to 30

  1. Breathe normally through the mouth

Initial dose

10

20

30

30 secs

5

10

15

  1. Breathe slowly and deeply

1 min

5

10

15

01.30

5

10

15

  1. Turn head slowly left to right (repeat)

02.00

5

10

15

02.30

5

10

15

  1. Move head slowly up and down (repeat)

03.00

5

10

15

03.30

5

10

15

  1. Talking – read the rainbow passage*

04.00

5

10

15

04.30

5

10

15

  1. Bend at the waist

05.00

5

10

15

05.30

5

10

15

  1. Breathe normally through the mouth

06.00

5

10

15

06.30

5

10

15

 

7 mins

END OF TEST

  • Ask the participant if they want to taste the Fit Test Solution to show the mask has worked – if yes ask them to break the seal with a finger. Remove the hood
  • REMEMBER to rinse your kit and ask all participants to wash

After the test


  • Pour away any unused solutions and thoroughly clean/rinse the nebulisers. Dry them as much as possible with clean paper towels
  • Repack the kit and store it until your next test session
  • Return the Attendance Record to facefittestrequests@ucl.ac.uk
  • Give the participant the completed Face Fit Test Certificate - see Step 2 above

If the participant has passed

  • A pass means that the facepiece is suitable for the shape and size of the participant's face and, if fitted correctly, should provide sufficient protection against respiratory hazards
  • You must issue the Face Fit Test Certificate to the participant by email or in person. The participant may need to present this during an audit

If the participant has failed

  • Failing a Face Fit test means that the model of facepiece is not suitable for the shape and size of the participant's face and may not provide sufficient protection against respiratory hazards
  • You must issue the Face Fit Test Certificate to the participant by email indicating the reason for the failed test and their next steps. They may need to present this during an audit

Email templates


Below are some useful email templates to send out if the participant has failed. 

Fail because not clean shaven 

Dear [first or given name], 

As you may remember, you attended a face fit test appointment on [date] but unfortunately, you could not be tested because you were not clean-shaven at the time of your test. 

You must be clean-shaven in the area that a mask fits your face in order to achieve a correct seal; this is required to provide proper protection and pass testing on a face mask. If you have more than 1 or 2 days of growth of facial hair, a mask is unlikely to form a proper seal and so we cannot complete a face fit test. 

Please make a repeat test appointment when you are able to be clean-shaven.  

If you have any questions or would like to discuss the result further (for example if you are unable to shave for health reasons or because of your faith) please contact on [your email address] 

Thanks and regards, 

[your name] 

Fail because of other reasons

Dear [first or given name], 

As you may remember, you attended a face fit test appointment on [date] but unfortunately, you failed to pass testing at the time.  

Disposable face masks are not suitable for all face types and a small number of people will not pass testing on a given set of masks. For this reason, we recommend that you should discuss this result with your line manager/supervisor and consider purchasing and using reusable respiratory protection, choosing either of the following types: 

  • Sundstrom SR100 half-mask respirator, price £50 approx.  
  • 3M Versaflo powered respirator (battery pack and hood), price £300 – 400  

If you would like to use the Sundstrom SR100 half-mask respirator, you should contact us to book a face fit test appointment using this mask.  

If you have further questions, please contact on [your email address] 

Thanks and regards, 

[your name]