Fit Testing

Headline from the Helpline: Fit Testing

In the first entry of the new “Headline from the Helpline” blog series, Pete Hilton from the 3M Health and Safety Helpline discusses the frequently asked questions he receives on Fit Testing…

What are the common questions people ask you about Fit Testing?
Probably the most common question is whether it is necessary to fit test disposable respirators. This is usually followed by ‘Can you come out and do some fit testing for us tomorrow?’

What would your advice be to someone asking after this?
All tight fitting respirators used as a control measure, which include disposable types, require fit testing. The test establishes whether or not a wearer can achieve an adequate seal to their face with a particular respirator. In response to the question about providing our fit testing service at very short notice: we are always delighted to help out but, because of our busy diaries, an advanced booking will nearly always be needed.

What is the most common mistake you hear of people making when selecting or wearing Respiratory Protective Equipment?
The most common mistake is selecting the wrong type of filter for an application, whether it be a particulate filter for a gas problem, gas filter for a particulate hazard or simply selecting too low a specification for the work. I have also come across problems where people have carried out qualitative fit testing using the gas filters that they need to handle the workplace hazard when the fit testing should always be done with particulate filters. Once the test is over you can then fit the appropriate filter for the hazards in the workplace.

“The most common mistake is selecting the wrong type of filter for an application”

What do you think this has to say about people’s knowledge and awareness of Fit Testing in the industry?
The question relating to providing fit testing at short notice most commonly comes from smaller construction companies that have been barred from a site because they haven’t got evidence that their employees have been fit tested. The awareness of the requirement to fit test tight fitting respirators seems to be there with the large construction companies, but that awareness has yet to reach the smaller sub-contractors that work on the sites.

For more guidance and advice, download our Fit Testing Technical Bulletin or visit

One thought on “Headline from the Helpline: Fit Testing”

  1. I am a PPE Sales Specialist in the North West and come across customers and end users seeking advice on face fit testing very frequently. Pete’s comments about the construction industry are a great example of my experience out in the field. Recently I have been working with construction companies to introduce 3M Versaflo which is a powered respirator incorporating the M306 helmet (Hard hat). Powered respirators are loose fitting and therefore do not require face fit testing. Workers also love the fact that they can have some stubble and dont need to be clean shaven with powered respirators!

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