What’s the meaning behind Qualitative & Quantitative Face fit during a test?
Of the two face-fit test methods available, qualitative, and quantitative, the more 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. It works through the wearer not being able to taste the agent. Both though are legally allowed to be carried out by someone who has been competently trained.
A face fit test requires the wearer to wear the mask through a series of seven consecutive exercises in as close to work-related conditions as possible. These include normal breathing, deep breathing, head side to side, head up and down, speaking, bending over and finally back to normal breathing. If at any point through the test you fail, then you would need to start again from the start. This is almost instantly during a quantitative test but for qualitative you need to wait for the wearer to not be able to taste the agent.
You will also be shown how to don and doff the mask correctly and how to maintain your RPE correctly to make sure it always works efficiently to provide the necessary protection.
During each of the seven exercises on a quantitative face fit test you need to score a fit factor of above 100 (half face) or 2000 (full face) on each exercise with FFP3 filtration. If the mask is an FFP 1 or 2 is used, then a N95 companion needs to be used on a portacount machine. For a qualitative test it is all dependant on whether the wearer tastes the solution during testing. If they don’t they pass and if they do they fail.
Fit test failures / re-tests
On failure of a test then time should be taken to make adjustments to the mask to check for secure fitting unless there is an obvious reason for failure such as coughing, sneezing or even that they suddenly fiddled with the mask! Qualitative testing requires time for the wearer to lose the taste of the solution before continuing whilst quantitative allows for almost instant re-testing after any adjustments are made if necessary. If they fail twice, then you should look to use an alternative mask.