15.04.20 Facemasks, COVID-19

Facemask fit-tests are essential to reduce COVID-19 risks to NHS, health and social care workers.

The Guardian (14.04.2020) have reported doctors and nurses are being put at risk of catching COVID-19 because hospital trusts do not want to reduce already depleted stocks of FFP3 Facemasks.

They are abandoning vital checks that ensure personal protective equipment (PPE) fits properly.


COVID-19 related absences are increasing

All this at a time when the number of Medics and NHS workers being unable to report to work is rising.

Official figures state 5.7% of hospital workers were off sick because of COVID-19, although the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has said this figure could be higher. In Scotland, 5.9% of the workforce were reported absent due to reasons related to COVID-19. 

IOM has been at the forefront of scientific research to understand and mitigate a range of occupational and environmental health risks for over 50 years. The risks to frontline workers are becoming a serious problem, mixed messages and disinformation will put staff in a position where they risk real harm to themselves. It's critical they get the right training and have access to the right information.

What is face fit testing?

Face fit testing is a requirement under the COSHH regulations (Control Of Substances Hazardous to Health) and require risks of all hazardous substances in the workplace are evaluated. Failure to comply with health and safety compliance is serious. 

IOM has more than 15 years’ experience delivering Fit2Fit qualified face fit services. We provide both quantitative and qualitative face fit testing and training. Both methods result in matching an individual's face shape with a compatible mask to ensure a tight seal is achieved.

We are currently working with some NHS trusts to ensure Face Fit testing is carried out.

Do you work in the NHS or DHSC?

If you work in the NHS, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) or you are caring for someone at home with COVID-19 then please read our guidance and helpful resources below.  

We would also like you to share HSE's 'Using disposable respirators' poster so NHS, Health and Social care workers understand pre-checks and how to put a disposable respirator on.

An NHS spokesperson told Guardian.com “National guidance is clear that fit-tests are required in hospitals. Government is continuing to procure vital protective equipment in line with its PPE strategy, and over the bank holiday weekend more than 48m pieces of protective kit were distributed to us, including 160,000 fit-test solutions and 8,000 fit-test kits.”


Our #WearItWell campaign focuses on the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). More people are choosing to protect themselves from COVID-19 with facemasks but how effective are they at protecting us in public and within the workplace?

Watch our video.


Guidance and helpful resources

IOM Face Fit services

WHO (World Health Organisation)

The UK HSE  

BSIF run the Fit2Fit Face Fit Testers accreditation scheme

BOHS Breathe Freely 

Effectiveness of face masks
An IOM study to understand ‘The Effectiveness of face masks used to protect Beijing residents against particulate air pollution’.


HSE POSTER: Using disposable respirators