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How the N95 Mask Fit Testing Procedure Works

By Tim Jones April 26, 2019

N95 Mask Fitting with Numerous People

When there is a high probability for airborne transmissions due to certain infectious agents and procedures, health laws such as Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) require the involved parties to use respirators for transmission prevention. An N95 mask is a disposable mask. This means that any type of mask that is used only once before being disposed of is classified as an N95.

N95 masks are known to save lives and protect users from airborne hazards. While most people are aware of this fact, the process of N95 dust mask fit testing is rarely discussed. Many people may not know exactly what to expect from the training. This article gives an insight into the N95 mask fit testing procedure.

Respirator mask fit testing is required by OSHA in a number of fields such as the medical sector where the practitioners may be exposed to viruses and illnesses. Other areas include construction-related fields where workers have to shield themselves from sand, dust, and toxic chemicals.

What to Include In the Training Program

The fit test N95 training should cover the following areas:

  • Respirator selection
  • Donning and doffing techniques
  • Personal safety
  • Regulations
  • Respirator use and care
  • Importance of using respirators

Preparations for a Mask Fit Testing

How to prepare for the N95 Fit Test:

  • Do not drink, smoke, or eat anything 30 minutes prior to the testing.
  • Men should shave their facial hairs.
  • Women should wipe off makeup from their faces.

Types of Fit Tests

There are two types of N95 mask fit tests.

  1. Qualitative fit testing – This one uses your sense of smell or taste and reaction to an irritant to detect any leakage into a respirator facepiece. It uses half-masks, which cover only the nose and mouth.
  2. Quantitative fit testing – This one is done on any tight-fitting respirator.

Fit Checking

Fit checking involves a quick check whenever the mask is worn to ensure the respirator is applied properly. There is a good seal to cover the bridge of the mouth and nose and to seal any gaps between the face and the respirator.

Fit Check Steps

The following steps should be followed in an N95 mask fit testing:

  • Place the N95 mask on your face.
  • Put the ties or headband over your head and at the neck base.
  • Compress the mask to ensure it seals the cheeks, face, and the bridge of your nose.
  • Exhale gently to check the respirator’s positive pressure seal. Adjust it if some air escapes.
  • Inhale gently to check the respirator’s negative pressure seal. Again readjust no air is drawn in towards the face.
  • Remember to always check the manufacturer’s specifications as you do the N95 mask fit test.

When to Dispose of the N95 Mask

After continuous use, the mask may be clogged, and breathing becomes difficult, or if it gets dirty, wet or deformed, it is advisable to throw away the mask and use a new one.

Sometimes the decision of doing a test fit may be a difficult one, but it is the right step to take for the safety of your employees. Contact us at Professional Fit Testing Services for respirator fit training and testing.

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