What is Respirator Fit Testing?
A respirator fit test procedure determines if a respirator properly fits a test subject. In the U.S., the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employees to wear tight-fitting respirators and other personal protective equipment for specific jobs or industries.
A tight-fitting respirator is a type of respiratory protection that facilitates normal breathing even when facing respiratory hazards. Additional fit tests requirements include:
While OSHA doesn’t require fit test administrators to get certified, our team consists of professionals who can quickly identify a worker’s minimum fit factor.
In addition, our team knows how to properly administer fit testing, detect faulty testing, and properly clean and sterilize respiratory protection and equipment.
Fit and Seal Testing
At WorkSafe, Fit testing will be administered using an OSHA-accepted qualitative test with Bitrex, a bitter tasting solution that can help the tester identify leaks in the respirator or mask. The employee will be required to bring the respirator they will use while working. The employee must be tested with the same make, model, style, and size of respirator that will be used on the job.
Qualitative fit testing can only fit test the following types of respirators:
- Air purifying respirators and negative pressure respirators: Environments where hazardous risks are less than ten times any permissible exposure limit (PEL) use this test.
- Atmosphere supplying or powered tight-fitting respirators.
Four OSHA-certified qualitative test agents determine a pass or fail in this fit test. Each test agent relies on a person’s senses, such as smell or taste:
- Bitrex®: Particulate filters of any class use this bitter taste.
- Saccharin: Particulate filters of any class use this sweet taste.
- Irritant smoke: This process involves a cough reflex for testing respirators with a level 100 particulate filter.
- Isoamyl acetate: This test uses a banana odor and only tests respirators with organic filter cartridges.
Each qualitative fit tested employee usually undergoes seven exercises administered for a minute each. These exercises range from standard and deep breathing, having a test subject move their head up and down and side to side, talk, and bend over.
Prior to fit testing, the providers at WorkSafe will conduct a surveillance physical that includes a medical evaluation questionnaire (MEQ) and pulmonary function or spirometry test.
A proper respiratory protection program also requires employees to check their respirators’ seals daily. OSHA regulations, except in rare circumstances, stipulate this rule. There are two types of seal tests:
This test occurs when blocking the face respirator’s intake valves. Subjects typically do so using their hands and attempting to breathe in. No air entering means the respirator is secure.
In this test, the subject blocks their exhalation valve by using a filtering facepiece or covering their respirator’s surface. Air doesn’t leak when pressure builds up.
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Our WorkSafe staff ensures that every employee is properly fit tested, and we provide every fit test solution available. Health and safety are our number one concerns, and we always provide each employee with a proper medical evaluation testing.
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