HSE Respiratory Protective Equipment ebulletin: September 2022

Having trouble viewing this email? View the content as a web page.

HSE Header logo small

HSE ebulletin

Face Fit Testing requirement for use of RPE

As an employer, you're required by law to protect your employees, and others, from harm.

To meet this requirement, you will need to complete a risk assessment to assess the risks posed by your work practices and implement identified control measures.


Where your risk assessment identified the need for tight-fitting RPE  to protect against the inhalation of hazardous substances in workplace air, it is your responsibility to ensure that the RPE will protect the wearer.


The Approved Code of Practice for the Control of substances hazardous to health regulations 2002 requires that tight fitting RPE should be face fit tested by a competent individual as part of the selection process and to ensure there is an adequate seal between the selected RPE and the wearer’s face.  


Face fit testing is important because if the RPE doesn’t fit correctly, the protection provided to the wearer will be greatly reduced and may lead to ill health or even put the RPE wearer’s life in danger.


When conducting a face fit test, and where tight-fighting RPE is used, to achieve a good seal between the tight-fitting respirator and the wearer's face, the wearer will need to be clean shaven Face fit tests should not be conducted if there is any hair growth between the wearers skin and facepiece sealing surface, this includes, stubble beard growth, beard, moustache, sideburns, or a low hairline. If the respirator has an exhalation valve, hair within the sealed mask area should not impinge upon or contact the valve.


Being clean-shaven when wearing tight-fitting RPE prevents inward leakage of contaminated air from around the edges of the face seal being breathed into the lungs. It is also very important that the RPE is put on correctly and checked for a good fit every time it is put on.


You should note that under health and safety law, employers cannot require workers to be clean shaven; this is because alternative RPE to tight fitting respirators are available and can be used instead.


Further information and resources

Visit the HSE website for information on fit testing basics.


For more detailed information on fit testing RPE, read or download our publication Guidance on respiratory protective equipment fit testing.

Lung Cancer Awareness month coming in November

Lung cancer is the most common cause of death from cancer for both men and women and early detection of lung cancer makes it more treatable.

Lung Cancer Awareness month takes place every November in the UK.


The aim of the campaign is to encourage individuals displaying the common symptoms of lung cancer, such as a persistent cough, breathlessness or unexplained weight-loss, to visit their GP. Encouraging people to recognise these symptoms and see their doctor sooner could save lives.


Workers need to be aware that certain work activities, such as exposure to dust, mild steel welding fume and heavy and prolonged exposure to silica, can cause lung cancer and other serious respiratory diseases.  


Under health and safety law employers are responsible for managing health and safety risks in their businesses, employees and the self-employed have important responsibilities too.


If you, or someone you know, work in a trade or industry where the health of your lungs may be affected, spread the word, share this information, and look after your lungs.


Get more information on the HSE website about:

You can get all the latest news and updates from HSE across a range of industries and topics.

Subscribe to our ebulletins here

GovUK footer logo