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Everything You Need to Know about Respirator Fit Tests

Posted on June 10, 2019 by Tim Jones

Man Wearing Respirator

Employees who work in hazardous work environments that have insufficient oxygen or harmful chemicals in the air are required to wear respirators. Respirators will either cover just the mouth and nose of the wearer or their entire face, depending on the respirator type. If your business requires your employees to sometimes work with hazardous chemicals and toxins, you should already know the importance of having proper respirators for them to use. A respirator fit test is performed to determine which type of respirator will suit your employees best.

Many factors go into determining the best respirator for your employees, including their job responsibilities, toxins they’re exposed to, and time spent exposed to these toxins. This thorough test needs to be carried out with the utmost care and professionalism to ensure your employees aren’t at risk for potential health hazards down the road. Here are some important facts about respirator fit tests that you ought to know.

Qualitative vs. Quantitative Testing

Qualitative fit testing is typically used for respirators that only cover the nose and mouth. This type of testing relies on the wearer’s sense of smell and taste to determine whether or not there’s a leakage within the mask. Your employees will be briefed on potential reactions they may experience if a leak is present, and it’ll be up to them to determine whether or not there’s sufficient leakage. On the other hand, quantitative testing uses a machine to measure the amount of leakage passing through into the facepiece. A hose will run from the machine to a probe attached to the respirator mask. This type of testing provides actual data, as opposed to relying solely on the wearer’s senses.

Protective Equipment

When your employees are being fitted for their respirator masks, it’s important that they wear their normal protective equipment. Things like goggles, hearing protection, and hard hats can greatly affect a respirator’s seal. For male employees, shaving is also necessary to ensure a proper respirator fit. If your employees are fitted for their respirator masks without wearing what they would normally wear, you’re likely to have leakage issues down the road. Those conducting proper respirator fit testing services will be aware of this and inform employees to bring their protective equipment with them to the fit test.

Orange Hard Hat

Medical Evaluations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employees to undergo a medical evaluation before being fitted for respirator masks. If one of your employees has a medical condition, this needs to be taken into account during the fit test. People suffering from asthma, pneumonia, or other respiratory diseases will need to be cleared by a physician or a licensed health care provider before being fitted. The primary purpose of a respirator fit test is to ensure your employees are able to work safely in any number of work environments. This makes the medical evaluations all the more important. Each employee will have to fill out a questionnaire that asks about their previous and current health conditions. It’s important that your employees answer these questions honestly, as failing to do so could put you in a difficult situation down the road.

Contact Professional Fit Testing Services if you’re in need of legitimate respirator fit testing services for your employees.

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