A respirator is a crucial part of an employee’s uniform, depending on their working conditions. The purpose of Respirator-Fit Testing is to ensure your employee’s respirator forms an adequate seal with their face to provide the intended level of protection. Employees that fail to comply may face fines.
When does a fit test need to be conducted?
- When starting a position where Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is 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.
If any personal protective equipment (PPE) is worn that could interfere with the respirator’s seal, employees must bring it to the Fit Test. This can include safety glasses, hearing protection, face shields, hard hats, and coveralls.
How often do you need to have a Respirator Fit Test?
The test is conducted annually and takes about 15 minutes to be completed. After passing the test, employees must use the exact same make, model, style, and size of the respirator on the job.
Quantitative Fit Testing
Quantitative Fit Testing evaluates the exact amount of leakage into any tight-fitting fa1cepieces. Instead of only relying on senses and bitter-tasting chemicals, this method is conducted using a machine calculating the measurements.
Three 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 an 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 that passed the Fit Test.
Pulmonary Function Test
In some instances, a respirator fit test is done along with a Pulmonary Function Test (PFT) or a Spirometry. The respirator fit testing ensures the right mask fit and model for the employee. However, the pulmonary function test gauges the employee’s lung health. Most often, employers use this test to develop a baseline to compare future against future tests. The baseline ensures employees have the adequate protection necessary to perform their job. It also provides good protection when evaluating worker’s compensation claims.