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All you need to know about fit, leak and verification testing in respiratory protection

All you need to know about fit, leak and verification testing in respiratory protection

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Respiratory protection plays a crucial role in many working environments. To ensure that respiratory protective equipment (RPE) is as effective as possible, verification, leak and fit tests are essential. This article explores the importance of these tests and their role in maintaining a safe working environment.


A few reminders

A few reminders

Having respiratory protection is all well and good, but the road to good protection doesn't stop there... In fact, if providing the necessary collective protection isn't enough, individual protection must be put in place.

For each type of protection, there is a selection process to find the right protection for each individual and each work situation. For respiratory protection, the parameters are as follows

  1.     parameters relating to pollutants (oxygen content, nature and concentration of pollutants, etc.)
  2.     the level of protection required
  3.     parameters relating to conditions of use.
  4.     fit tests (mandatory for protection against asbestos fibres).

And this is where things get complicated: what's the difference between fit tests, leakage tests and verification tests? How should they be carried out? Which are compulsory and which are not?

In this article, we'll explore the different types of fit, leak and verification tests.

Fit tests

Fit tests

The fit test ensures that the EPR fits correctly. This test is just as important as the seal. Fit tests ensure that the mask or respirator is correctly positioned on the user's face, guaranteeing maximum protection. This test enables different types and models of mask to be tested, so that the most suitable mask can be chosen for each individual. The aim is to check that the mask is correctly adapted to the wearer's morphology and that it is watertight, to avoid the risk of contaminants leaking into the mask and fogging up the glasses. These tests are carried out on :

  •     Full face masks
  •     Half masks
  •     Filtering half-masks

The aim of these tests is to eliminate fitting errors that could compromise the effectiveness of the EPR. They should be carried out initially when the equipment is selected, and then periodically to check that the protection is still suitable for the individual. They should also be carried out whenever the facepiece is modified or the wearer's physique changes.

The seal of the mask or half-mask can be broken by a beard, moustache, sideburns, scars, skin rashes, glasses, jewellery or hairstyles. In these cases, if it is not possible to obtain a correct fit, it is preferable to use balaclavas.

According to the ISO 16972 standard, this specific protocol will determine, qualitatively or quantitatively, the individual's ability to obtain a correct seal with a fitted facepiece of a specific make, model and size.

Obligation? This test is compulsory for all asbestos-related activities.

Who carries out this type of test?  Companies specialising in asbestos removal >

Leak test

Leak test

The leak test is carried out after a successful fit test. The purpose of this test is to check that the respirator is worn correctly each time it is put on: the seal of the mask on the wearer's face is checked. The seal of a mask or respirator is crucial in preventing contaminants from entering. Tightness tests assess the ability of the EPR to form a hermetic seal on the wearer's face. It should be carried out routinely each time the mask is put on.

CAUTION: this test is not a substitute for fit testing!


Negative pressure leak test (source ED 6273 from INRS)


  1.     Put on the full or half mask, adjusting the straps or elastics.
  2.     Seal the filter or filtering surface with your hands or a plastic film.
  3.     Inhale and hold your breath for a few seconds

Pass: The mask tends to lie flat against the face. If not, the mask must be readjusted and the test repeated.

Positive pressure leak test (source ED 6273 from INRS)


  1.     Test to be carried out after the negative tightness test
  2.     Seal the filter or filtering surface with your hands or a plastic film.
  3.     Blow a small amount of air into the mask.

Test passed: The mask will bulge slightly. If not, the mask must be readjusted and the test repeated.

NB: Some types of facepieces do not allow these tests to be carried out, in which case you should refer to the manufacturer's instructions.

Verification test

Verification test

Verification testing is the first step in ensuring that respiratory protective equipment (RPE) is working properly. These tests involve visually inspecting the RPE, checking the integrity of the components and ensuring that it meets current safety standards.

To carry out a verification test, you need to be equipped with the necessary testing equipment and the data supplied by the mask manufacturer.

At the end of the test, our approved technician will issue you with a certificate of conformity for the device.

What is required?

According to the decree of 19 March 1993, which lists the personal protective equipment that must undergo Periodic General Inspection, it is compulsory to check a respiratory protection mask.

This text specifies that respiratory protection equipment must have been checked less than 12 months before it is used. This decree is reiterated in article R4323-99 of the French Labour Code.

Who carries out this type of test?  Companies specialising in PPE maintenance >

Ce qu'il faut savoir également en protection respiratoire :

Standards and regulations :

It is imperative to comply with current standards and regulations when carrying out respiratory protection tests. Regulatory bodies specify the recommended procedures and frequencies for these tests, ensuring a high level of safety in the workplace.

User training

Adequate training of users on how to carry out these tests is also essential. Workers must understand the importance of these procedures and be able to carry them out correctly. Increased awareness helps to prevent accidents linked to defective respiratory protection.


Respiratory protection verification, leak and fit tests are fundamental to ensuring effective protection in the workplace. By investing in these processes, companies demonstrate their commitment to worker safety. Ultimately, well-maintained and properly fitted RPE is the key to ensuring a safe and healthy working environment.