Fit Testing information for Dentistry

Plans are in place to train 560 fit testers from the NHS dental sector across NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&NHSI) regions. Once trained, fit testers will be asked to fit test NHS colleagues in surrounding local practices. Fit testers will be part of teams that are directly involved in delivering NHS dental services.

NHSE&NHSI Regions will be working collaboratively with Health Education England (HEE) and Respiratory Protective Assessment Ltd (RPA)  to arrange 8 courses per NHSE&NHSI Region in order to train 80 fit testers per Region.

NHSE&NHSI is arranging for fit testers who undertake the training to be engaged under an honorary contract to fit test in their region. As an employee of NHSE&NHSI fit-testers will be covered for this role through NHSE&NHSI’s membership of state indemnity schemes operated by NHS Resolution

Each Region will have their own implementation plans in place and for further details on local arrangements, please contact your local regional dental team. Details of regional contacts are in this letter.

Further information on fit testing can be obtained from the HSE website https://www.hse.gov.uk/respiratory-protective-equipment/fit-testing-basics.htm

 

The remainder of this webpage provides information on fit testing of FFP and Half Mask respirators for wearers in dentistry. This information aims to answer the most common questions and provide resources for further guidance if required.

We are currently experiencing a very high volume of calls to the fit testing helplines. In the first instance, please use the information below which is designed to assist with questions about fit testing and training. This page will be updated with further information on centrally funded training courses as they become available.

This information assumes that you have chosen to use tight-fitting RPE as part of your control regime following an appropriate risk assessment. It is important to know that some pre-existing medical conditions may restrict or prevent some workers wearing any RPE, or certain types of RPE. You will need to ensure that workers are fit to wear the selected and required RPE. If you are unsure, you (the employer) should arrange for appropriate medical assessment.

Why is Fit Testing needed?

Fit Testing is a method for checking that a tight fitting facepiece matches an individual’s facial features and can provide an adequate seal to the wearer’s face.​ Fit Testing is required for everyone who wears any type of tight-fitting mask at work. This includes FFP1, FFP2 & FFP3 disposable, half and full face masks. Remember, you will need a separate fit test for each make, model and size of facepiece worn in the workplace.

The performance of tight-fitting facepieces depends on achieving a good contact between the wearer’s skin and the face seal of the facepiece. As people come in all sorts of shapes and sizes it is unlikely that one particular model, or size of RPE facepiece, will fit everyone. Inadequate fit will significantly reduce the protection provided to the wearer. Any reduction in protection can put the RPE wearer’s life in danger or may lead to immediate or long-term ill health.

What are Qualitative and Quantitative fit tests?

There are two methods of fit testing which can be used to fit test FFP (disposable) and Half Mask respirators.

The Qualitative method relies on the wearer’s taste response to detect face seal leakage of a test agent (Bitter or Sweet). The Qualitative method is a subjective method and can only be used for fit testing of filtering facepieces (disposable masks) and half masks, not full face masks.

The Quantitative (Ambient Particle Counting) method can be used to fit test all types of tight-fitting masks including disposable, half and full face masks. Quantitative tests give an objective assessment of facial fit and provide a direct numerical result called a Fit Factor.

How to access fit testing services in the private sector

You can also access fit testing services through the following links to providers in the private sector:

If you are looking for a fit tester visit www.fit2fit.org/find-a-tester/

If you are looking for a training course visit www.fit2fit.org/fit2fit-approved-training-providers/

Further guidance on Fit Testing and RPE

General advice on selection of RPE is covered in the HSE guidance document Respiratory protective equipment at work: A practical guide (HSG53). Guidance on Fit testing of RPE can be found in HSE INDG 479 and the supporting Fit2Fit Companion series.