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A Brief History of PASMA
Formed in 1974, and comprising the major manufacturers of alloy access towers in the UK, the Association's original objectives were to promote the safe use of alloy access towers and to promote the interests of its members to the regulatory and standards authorities.  Membership of the Association was confined to manufacturers only, who at that time represented the principal suppliers to the market for both sales and hire.
In the early 1980s, the Association devised its PASMA Training Course for users of alloy towers, now universally acknowledged as the industry standard, and so commenced a long history of skills training to make the use of access towers as safe as possible by producing many thousands of competent users.
The PASMA Code of Practice, which has come to be the definitive access tower reference document for managers, supervisors, health & safety professionals and users alike, and which has been completely updated to incorporate the requirements of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, was also first produced in the 1980s.
Like all dynamic organisations, PASMA has moved with the times.  In the late 1990s, more stringent Procedures for the PASMA Standard Training Scheme were formalised and an Audit Regime was established to ensure a uniformly high level of PASMA training from one end of the country to the other.
Around this time, the Association changed its name to demonstrate its wider representation of manufacturers of both aluminium and fibreglass access towers, and to reflect its reviewed and widened membership categories.  This saw the introduction of new Hirer / Dealer, & Training memberships with full voting rights which more accurately represented all sectors of the access tower industry and re-established PASMA's position as the lead representative body and authority on all matters relating to mobile access towers.
Although most commonly associated with use in construction and related trades, applications for Mobile Access Towers span across many industries, ranging from the railway and aerospace industries to food and pharmaceuticals.  Since 1999, when fundamental changes to the membership criteria were introduced, the Association offers full membership, not only to manufacturers, but also to hirers, dealers and those organisations accredited to provide PASMA training.  A further category, that of non-voting associate, caters for anyone with a demonstrable interest in the UK tower industry, with a final category of Subscribing Member being added in 2005 to cater for those individuals and organisations who, although not active in the industry, nevertheless wish to avail themselves of the opportunity to purchase PASMA health and safety publications and products and keep abreast of changes in this fast moving industry.
Manufacturing members are those companies who are licensed to manufacture Mobile Access Towers to BS EN 1004 : 2004, and which carry the current British Standard Kitemark or other equivalent mark of approval (e.g. TUV, NF Mark, etc.).  Hirers, dealers and training members have, as a requirement of their membership, to use mainly Mobile Access Towers which carry the current British Standard Kitemark or equivalent mark of approval.
The Association publishes an Operator's Code of Practice which is regularly reviewed and updated, an indispensable guide which covers all aspects of Mobile Access Towers use, including erection and dismantling, stability, safe operation, hazards, inspection, care and maintenance.
However, PASMA is still best known for its training programme which has helped more than 24,000 users in the year 2005 alone to improve their safety and operational performance. Only available from PASMA Registered Training Centres, the authorised programme is not available from any other source.
The Association remains confident that its open and inclusive membership policy continues to encourage companies both large and small, from all sectors of the industry, to become members and so help reinforce its position as the principal UK focus for Mobile Access Tower training, standards and best practice.

Fit Testing FAQs

What is Fit Testing?

Face Fit Testing is a method for checking that a tight fitting face piece matches an individual’s facial features and can provide an adequate seal to the wearer’s face.

What is the reason for Fit Testing?

The performance of tight-fitting face pieces depends on achieving a good contact between the wearer’s skin and the face seal of the face piece. As people come in all sorts of shapes and sizes it is unlikely that one particular type, or size of RPE face piece, will fit everyone. An 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 the legal requirements for Fit Testing?

The COSHH Regulations reg.7(1), The CLAW Regulations reg.6(1), The CAR 2006 Regulations place the duty on the employer to prevent the exposure of their employees to hazardous substances; where prevention of exposure is not reasonably practicable, the employer must reduce it to the lowest concentration reasonably practicable by means other than the use of RPE.

If, despite the use of suitable control measures (i.e. other than RPE) adequate control of exposure cannot be achieved, employers must provide suitable RPE (COSHH Regulations reg.7(3)(c), CLAW Regulations reg.6(3)(c), CAR 2006 Regulations. The RPE provided must reduce the exposure to a concentration that is as low as reasonably practicable, and in any case below any applicable exposure or control limits.

The ACOPS 1, 2, 3, 4 supporting the COSHH, CLAW and Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 recommend that the initial selection of tight fitting face pieces should include a fit test. This is to ensure that the selected RPE has the potential to provide adequate protection for the wearer.

The employer must have documented evidence of the characteristics of the RPE to be used. Similar requirements are described in COSHH & CLAW. These requirements are there to ensure that the RPE provided is suitable. The evidence to support the suitability will include fit test reports for face pieces with tight-fitting face seals. Fit test records should be retained by the employer and must be kept available for inspection on request.

What is a tight-fitting face piece?

Tight-fitting face pieces are

  • Filtering Face pieces (disposable masks)
  • Half Masks
  • Full-Face Masks

Visors, helmets, hoods and blouses are loose fitting devices.

Do loose fitting face pieces require fit testing?

No. Loose fitting devices are less dependent on a tight fit to the wearer's face and therefore do not require fit testing. However, a loose fitting face piece requires the correct size to ensure the wearer achieves an adequate protection.

When is a repeat Fit Test required?

A repeat Fit Test will be required if the wearer:
a) loses or gains weight
b) undergoes any substantial dental work
c) develops any facial changes (scars, moles, etc) around the faceseal area.

What is the output of a fit test?

The main output of a fit test is a report which will state whether the fit test was a pass or a fail. Some service providers may call this a ‘certificate’.

Who can conduct Fit Testing?

RPE fit testing should only be conducted by a competent person. To be competent the person should have adequate knowledge, and have received adequate instruction and training in the following areas:

  • selection of adequate and suitable RPE
  • examination of RPE and the ability to identify poorly maintained face pieces
  • ability to correctly fit a face piece and perform pre-use fit checks
  • ability to recognise a poor fitting face piece
  • the purpose and applicability of fit testing; the differences between, and the appropriate use of, quantitative and qualitative fit testing methods
  • the purpose of the fit test exercises
  • preparation of face pieces for fit testing
  • how to carry out diagnostic checks on the face piece and the fit test equipment
  • capabilities and limitations of the fit test equipment
  • how to perform a correct fit test with the chosen method
  • be aware of and know how to prevent and correct problems during fit testing
  • interpretation of fit test results;
  • an understanding of the differences between fit factor, workplace protection factor, assigned protection factor and nominal protection factors
  • HSE Regulations and the Approved Codes of Practice relating to fit testing.

Is a pre-use fit check the same as the face piece fit test?

No. A pre-use fit check is required every time the face piece is worn and before entering the hazardous environment. It is needed to determine if the face piece has been correctly donned before a contaminated work area is entered.

Is there a difference between a Fit Factor (FF) and the Assigned Protection Factor (APF)?

A fit factor is the result of a fit test and only relates to a specific face piece/wearer combination.
The Assigned Protection Factor (APF) for a specific type and class of RPE is published in BS4275.6 It relates to the likely performance of the whole device when worn correctly and used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instruction (which includes the need for a satisfactory fit testing). When selecting an adequate and suitable RPE, for use at work, the assigned protection factor should be used. For more details consult HSG53 or talk to a reputable RPE supplier or manufacturer.


Can a Fit Test be carried out on a wearer who has a beard or stubble?

A fit test should not be conducted if there is any hair growth between the wearer’s skin and the face piece of the mask. Such hair growth includes stubble, beards, moustaches, sideburns or low hairline which crosses the respirator sealing surface.

Why is it necessary for the wearer to exercise during the fit test?

Test exercises generate a physical workload on the wearer that simulate working activities and work rate. This will test the fit of the face piece better than if the wearer was at rest.

What if the candidate normally wears a hard hat or goggles with their respirator?

If the candidate normally wears other personal protective equipment with their RPE (eg hard hat, goggles, etc) which has the potential to interfere with the seal of the face piece then they should be worn during the fit test to check their compatibility.


  1. L5: The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 Approved Code of Practice and Guidance 2002. 4th edition HSE Books ISBN 07176 253 46
  2. L132: The Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002 Approved Code of Practice and Guidance 2002, 4th edition, HSE Books ISBN 0 7176 256 56
  3. L27: Work with asbestos which does not normally require a licence (Fourth edition). Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002 Approved Code of Practice and guidance, 4th edition, HSE Books 2002 ISBN 0 7176 2562 1
  4. L28: Work with asbestos insulation, asbestos coating and asbestos insulating board (Fourth edition).  Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002 Approved Code of Practice and guidance, 4th edition, HSE Books 2002 ISBN 0 7176 2562 X
  5. HSG53: The selection, use and maintenance of respiratory protective equipment - a practical guide HSE Books ISBN 0 7176 1537 5
  6. BS 4275:1997: Guide to implementing an effective respiratory protective device programme
  7. The Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002 SI 2002/1144 HMSO 2002 ISBN 0 11  039830 0
  8. BS EN12942:2001: Respiratory protective devices: Power assisted filtering devices incorporating full-face face pieces, half face pieces or quarter face pieces Requirements, testing, marking.
  9. BS EN149:1992: Specification for filtering half face pieces to protect against particles
  10. BS EN 136:1998: Respiratory protective devices: Full face face piece Requirements, testing, markings
  11. BS EN140:1998: Respiratory protective devices: Half face pieces and quarter face pieces - Requirements, testing, markings


We are able to deliver on-site training courses in all these regions:

Avon, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Borders, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Central Scotland, Cheshire,  Cleveland, Clwyd, Cornwall, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Devon, Dorset, Dumfries/Galloway, Dyfed, East Sussex, Essex, Fife, Gloucestershire, Grampian, Greater Manchester, Gwent, Gwynedd County, Hampshire, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Highlands, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, London, Lothian, Merseyside, Mid Glamorgan, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Northumberland, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Powys, Shropshire, Somerset, South Glamorgan, Staffordshire, Strathclyde, Suffolk, Surrey, Tayside, Tyne and Wear, Warwickshire, West Glamorgan, West Midlands, West Sussex, Wiltshire, Worcestershire & Yorkshire

Bangor, Bath, Birmingham, Bradford, Brighton and Hove, Bristol, Cambridge, Canterbury, Cardiff, Carlisle, Chester, Chichester, Coventry, Derby, Durham, Edinburgh, Ely, Exeter, Gloucester, Hereford, Kingston upon Hull, Lancaster, Leeds, Leicester, Lichfield, Lincoln, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, Newport, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Peterborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Preston, Salford, Salisbury, Sheffield, Southampton, St Albans, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland, Swansea, Truro, Wakefield, Wells, Winchester, Wolverhampton, Worcester, York