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 (RFT). Employees that fail to comply may face fines. OSHA also mandates you to 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. The purpose of the test is to ensure your employee’s respirator forms an adequate seal with their face to provide the intended level of protection.
If the 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.
When does a fit 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 to be completed. It usually is conducted annually (12 months). After passing the test, the exact same make, model, style, and size of the respirator must be used on the job.
Quantitative Fit Testing
Quantitative Fit Testing evaluates the exact amount of leakage into any tight-fitting facepieces. Instead of only relying on senses and bitter-tasting chemicals, this method is conducted by a machine calculating the measurements.
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. 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.
Pulmonary Function Test
Many times, a respirator fit test is done along with a Pulmonary Function Test (PFT), also known as a Spirometry. 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 provides good protection when evaluating the cause of worker’s compensation claims. The baseline also helps to ensure employees have the adequate protection necessary to perform their job.
Commonly asked questions and how to prepare for a Respirator Fit Test can be found on our blog here.
We currently offer respirator fit-testing at our Tulsa, Oklahoma location.