Health & Safety Department

Respirator facefit testing

Respiratory protective equipment and facefit testing.

Mandatory testing and standardisation of mask usage


All staff who, after a risk assessment has been completed, are required to wear a tight fitting face mask, must undertake a facefit test before commencing work.

It has been shown that, because of better and more consistent fit results and ease of operator adjustment, re-usable respirators provide a more consistent and higher degree of protection than disposable (paper mask) respirators. For this reason, and taking into account that costly dedicated adapters are required for the testing of each manufacturer's respirators, it has been decided that wherever possible respirator type should be standardised across the University. This approach has been fully endorsed by the Procurement Department. The respirators that are recommended for use, and the available masks for face fit testing, are given in the table below.

Half-face mask reusable Full-face mask reusable Disposable
3M 7500 - S, M, L 3M 6000 - S, M, L Alpha Solway S-3V - one size (smaller in size)
Sundstrom SR100 - S/M, M/L, L/XL   Alpha Solway 3030V - one size


Face fit test procedures


An individual test takes approximately 45 minutes - this involves an element of respirator fit training, which also meets a legislative requirement. The test requires some simple exercises to be undertaken whilst wearing the respirator (stepping, head movement, talking, etc.) and the equipment evaluates fit during these exercises.

On completion of the FFT, the results of the test will be uploaded to the COSHH health passport system. The CHPS manages an individual’s health record, as required by COSHH Regulations, It can be found at:, each person will also be sent an email with links to a guidance sheet on how to purchase a mask, and suitable filters. The email will also include links to training videos and a maintenance log.

Facial hair

If you are a person who has facial hair in the area of contact of the face seal of a tight fitting full-face or half-face respirator (mask), you will not be able to be face fit tested for use of such Personal Protective Equipment. Persons to be tested must be clean-shaven.

Normal mask type respirators rely for their efficiency on a tight fit to the wearers face and the Approved Code of Practice to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations requires that all wearers of such devices be personally face-fit tested to ensure that the respirator that they are provided with fits properly and thus affords the level of protection expected of it.

Facial hair in the area of the respirator face seal prevents a proper seal being achieved, or maintained, as the facial skin distorts during normal working conditions and/or speech, thus the Regulations preclude testing of such persons and the use by them of this type of respirator.

Further guidance for persons with facial hair is provided below.


If you are a smoker you will be required to refrain from smoking for at least 90 minutes prior to the test, this is because the sensitive equipment may detect particulate in exhaled breath which may result in a false failure.

e-Cigarettes are treated in the same way as traditional cigarettes with to our testing procedure.


Users who require a full-face mask will not be able to wear glasses. If you require full face protection and need glasses then you will need to use a powered respirator, these do not require face fit testing.

Frequency of testing

It is recommended that those using tight fitting facemasks should be re-tested every three years. However, if any of the statements below apply then you will need to be re-tested before resuming any work using the facepiece.

  • You need to change to another type of facepiece;
  • If your facial features alter due to weight loss or gain;
  • If your facial features alter due to substantial dental work;
  • If you develop facial imperfections (scars, moles, etc.) around the face seal area.

Face fit testing timetable

(Update: 15.08.2022) Face fit testing is now being provided at the Easter Bush campus (EBC)

These sessions will run monthly and are available to EBC staff and students ONLY. Please use the MyEd button below and ensure you select "Face Fit Test - Easter Bush Campus Only" to book an appointment slot. More information for staff and Postgraduate students is available on the Easter Bush Sharepoint page. If you are an Undergraduate student, an individual risk assessment will identify whether you require a face fit test - please speak to your supervisor/PI in the first instance. If you have any questions about face fit testing at EBC, please contact

All other face fit testing will continue to be offered at Charles Stewart House (Central Area).

The table below outlines the upcoming face fit dates for the University.

Date Venue
Thursday 27th June 2024 Room W2.04, QMRI, Edinburgh BioQuarter (Little France)
Tuesday 2nd July 2024 Meeting Room 2.9, Charles Stewart House (Central Area)

Booking a test

Read through the following flow chart which lists the process you should go through before booking your face fit test.

Flow chart instructions on how to request a test

Once you have read the flow chart above please follow the link below to go to the MyEd, choose News and Events tab and choose Event Bookings. You can either search for 'Face Fit Test' or choose 'Health and Safety' as the provider and all available slots will show. If no suitable appointments are available, please DO NOT add yourself to the waiting list as we do not check this, but check back in a few weeks' time for more slots or contact us if urgent at


Cost of the test and equipment supplied

Each 30 minute test costs £26.

The Health and Safety Department will charge each School/Unit after the test including any masks/filters supplied via the eIT system.

Please note if any person does not turn up for their test, has facial hair on the day that prevents a test being undertaken or has smoked within 90 minutes of the test, their School/Unit will be charged for the initial test plus the subsequent test at a later date.

If you are unable to attend the allocated time, you must, if possible, give us at least 24 hours notice. If we do not receive sufficient notice, without due cause, we will charge your School/Unit as above.

Cleaning, examination and maintenance

  • All masks should be cleaned after each use, as well as more thoroughly after long term use.
  • All masks should be examined on a regular basis.
  • Thorough maintenance should be carried out at least once a month - records of the this should be logged and kept for 5 years.
  • Maintenance logs should be used for half-face, full-face and powered respirators.

Facefit testing and the Law

The requirement for RPE facepiece fit testing is described in the Approved Code of Practices supporting:

  • The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002
  • The Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002
  • The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002

Of the two face-fit test methods available, qualitative and quantitative, the only meaningful one is the quantitative test method, which provides a numerical measure of fit, called a 'fit factor'. The qualitative test is extremely subjective in nature and is subject to so many variables and potential interference as to be almost meaningless and indeed open to abuse. The University has therefore decided to accept only quantitative test certificates as evidence of successful face-fit test.

The Occupational Hygiene Unit runs the in-house facefit testing programme and a number of the Health and Safety Department's staff have been trained to 'competent person' level in both the operation of the equipment and instruction and training of respirator wearers.

Full details on the law are provided in the document below.