A respirator is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) designed to protect the wearer from a potential hazardous environment. A respirator fit test determines if the PPE can be worn without having any leaks, and which device is best for the wearer. Read below to learn more about what a respirator fit test includes and how your employees can best prepare. We currently offer respirator fit-testing at our Tulsa, Oklahoma location.
A Comprehensive Guide to the Respirator Fit Test
Wearing a respirator is a crucial item to your employee’s uniform if working in conditions you could breathe in polluted air, vapors, or fibers. If you work in a hazardous area with harmful dust, fumes, gases, etc., the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates you to wear respirators and undergo regular Respirator Fit Testing. Employees that fail to comply may face fines. Tomo Drug Testing currently offers Respirator Fit Testing at our Tulsa, Oklahoma location.
What is the purpose of a Respirator Fit Test?
The fit test is to ensure the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) respirator forms an adequate seal with the wearer’s face to provide the intended level of protection.
What could cause an inaccurate respirator fit or diminish the effectiveness of the device?
- Weight gain or loss
- Dental work or facial surgery
- Significant scarring in areas that seal meets skin
- Facial hair (beard, goatee, mustache)
- Glasses or protective eyewear
When does the Respirator Fit Test need to be conducted?
- When starting a position where Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in needed according to OSHA Respirator Standard CFR 1910.134.
- When a different style, model, make, or size of respirator will be used.
- When changes in face occur, that could affect fit, such as significant weight fluctuation, face surgery, face scarring, or dental work.
How often do you need to have a Respirator Fit Test?
The test takes about 15 minutes and should be conducted annually. After passing the test, the exact same make, model, style, and size of the respirator must be used on the job.
How to prepare for a Respirator Fit Test?
There are a few things your employee needs to do before their respirator fit test begins:
- Choose a respirator. Picking a respirator for your job, you should consider what toxins you are exposed to, job responsibilities, time spent exposed, the concentration of the toxins, etc.
- The equipment must be NIOSH-certified. You need to bring the chosen respirator to the Fit Test.
- Bring protective equipment. You should bring any personal protective equipment (PPE) to the test that could interfere with the respirator’s seal. These items may include hearing protection, face shields, hard hats, coveralls, and safety glasses.
- Shave. Because facial hair can interfere with a respirator’s fit, OSHA requires you to be clean-shaven.
- Complete a medical evaluation questionnaire. OSHA regulates that you complete a Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire (RMEQ). Our physician or trained technician will review the RMEQ before the test. You will be required to see your PCP if invalid data is present before any fitting is performed.
If the worker/employee wears any other personal protective equipment (PPE) that could interfere with the respirator’s seal, they must bring those items to the Fit Test. This can include safety glasses, hearing protection, face shields, hard hats, and coveralls.
What does the Quantitative Respirator Fit Test Cover?
Quantitative Fit Testing evaluates the exact amount of leakage into any tight-fitting face-pieces. Instead of only relying on senses and bitter-tasting chemicals, this method is conducted by a machine calculating the measurements. In this test, the employee is instructed to perform the same exercise seven times. The employee is then instructed to perform a grimace test where they smile or frown for at least 15 seconds.
3 acceptable quantitative fit test methods by OSHA:
- Controlled negative pressure – uses a test that creates a vacuum by temporarily cutting off air
- General aerosol – uses non-hazardous aerosols such as corn oil generated in a test chamber
- Ambient aerosol – uses a ambient aerosol and does not require a test chamber
The respirator’s filter detects which agent is tested. The leakage measurement on the test, determines if the employee is safe to use their respirator. A fit factor of 100 is needed for half-mask respirators, while a fit factor of at least 500 is needed for full face respirators. When the test is complete, each eligible employee is issued a card including the size, model and make of the type of respirator they got a passed Fit Test.
What is the Pulmonary Function Test?
Many times, a respirator fit test is done along with a Pulmonary Function Test (PFT). The respirator fit testing ensures the right mask fit and model for the employee, the pulmonary function test actually gauges the employee’s lung health. Most often, employers use this test to develop a baseline to compare future against future tests.
Having this established baseline helps to ensure employees have the adequate protection necessary to perform their job.
If you need assistance with your company’s drug testing policy, contact Tomo Drug Testing for help. Based in Springfield (MO), St. Louis (MO), Kansas City (MO), Indianapolis (IN), and Tulsa (OK), we offer customized solutions to make drug testing simple, and our nationwide network of clinics and providers allows Tomo Drug Testing to be available anytime, anywhere. For a free needs analysis, give us a call today at 1-888-379-7697 or contact us online. We would be happy to help!