The UK's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued fresh guidance on the correct way to wear a respirator and carry out a fit check.
Aimed at the healthcare sector, which is relying on respiratory protective equipment (RPE) during the coronavirus outbreak, the advice reminds workers that if a respirator is incorrectly fitted, it will not provide protection.
'Tight-fitting respirators rely on having a good seal with the wearer’s face,' the HSE said in a statement. 'A face fit test should be carried out to ensure the RPE can protect the wearer.'
The HSE has produced a video featuring HSE's chief medical advisor Professor David Fishwick explaining how to safely fit RPE, and also covers additional measures to minimise the risk of transmission of Covid-19 during face-fit testing, including social distancing when fit testing colleagues, hand hygiene and disinfecting equipment.
The regulator is also reminding employers that a fit test should be repeated whenever there is a change to the RPE type, size, model or material or whenever there is a change to the circumstances of the wearer that could alter the fit of the RPE, such as:
- weight loss or gain
- substantial dental work
- any facial changes (scars, moles, effects of ageing etc) around the face seal area
- facial piercings
- introduction or change in other head-worn PPE.
'This is great advice from the HSE,' commented Sarah Baker, marketing manager at PPE manufacturer JSP. 'RPE must be suitable for the wearer, the hazard, the task and the environment in which it is being used. A fit test determines the suitability of a particular style of mask to the wearer as tight-fitting RPE relies on a good seal to the wearer’s face to offer the right protection. A fit check should also be carried out each time the RPE is worn.'