Respirator Fit Testing
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration – also called “OSHA” – and State OSHA Agencies require employers to fit test workers who must wear respirators on the job. Respirator Fit Testing is performed to determine if an employee can maintain an acceptable respiratory fit and seal.
If your respirator doesn’t fit properly it can’t protect you. There are certain respirators, known as tight-fitting respirators, that need to form a tight seal with your face or neck to work properly. If they don’t air can leak in through your face mask and you could breathe in hazardous substances. Fire & Safety will perform a Fit Test on you while you wear the same make, model, and size of respirator that you will be using on the job. That way, you know that your respirator fits you properly and can protect you, as long as you use it correctly.
Qualitative and Quantitative Fit Testing
There are two types of fit tests: qualitative and quantitative and at Fire & Safety we provide both.
Qualitative Fit Testing is a pass/fail test method that uses your sense of taste or smell, or your reaction to an irritant in order to detect leakage into the respirator face mask. Qualitative fit testing does not measure the actual amount of leakage. Whether the respirator passes or fails the test is based simply on you detecting leakage of the test substance into your face mask.This is normally used for half-mask respirators that just cover the mouth and nose.
Quantitative Fit Testing uses a machine to measure the actual amount of leakage into the face mask and doesn’t rely on your sense of taste, smell, or irritation in order to detect a potential leak. The respirators used during this type of fit testing will have a probe attached to the face mask that will be connected to the machine by a hose. Quantitative fit testing can be used for any type of tight-fitting respirator.
You must be fit tested before you use a respirator in the workplace, and you must be re-tested at least every 12 months to make sure that the respirator you use still fits you. You must be fit tested with the specific make, model, style, and size of respirator that you will be using. In addition, before you use a respirator or are fit-tested, your employer must ensure that you are medically able to wear it.