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Mask Fit Testing: Things to Know

Posted on May 16, 2019 by Tim Jones

Mask Fit Testing

Safety is one of the most important aspects of any work environment, and most businesses know how important it is to purchase all the necessary safety equipment. However, there’s more to safety than that. You need to make sure you know how to use your safety equipment properly, and you need to make sure that your equipment works correctly for your specific employees. If you or your employees use any kind of respirator mask, for instance, you need to perform routine OSHA mask fit testing to ensure your masks fit you correctly. Otherwise, you're putting them at risk for losing their effectiveness.

What Is Fit Testing?

Whether you get a dust mask fit test or a fit test for any kind of respirator, make sure that it fits your face and forms a tight seal against your head. There are a few types of tests, but the most popular ones are qualitative and quantitative testing. In qualitative tests, which are usually used for half-mask respirators, you’re testing your sense of taste or smell. You’re exposed to some sort of irritant while wearing the mask, and you report whether you can detect it or not. If you can, that means you have a leak in the system. You can use a quantitative test for any type of tight-fitting respirator, as it uses a machine to measure potential leakage rather than using your senses.

Where Can You Get It Done?

Testing centers all around the country are equipped to serve as mask fit test locations. If you need a fit test for a dust mask, you must find a center with certified personnel. Not only should they have received their initial training, but they should also keep up to date with all subsequent training and re-certification. These professionals can walk you through the process so that you know what’s going to happen in order to prepare ahead of time. Often, they’ll have guidelines for you to follow in order to get the most accurate test results, especially for qualitative testing. Most companies will ask you to avoid eating, smoking, or chewing gum for a certain period of time before the test starts. This helps to ensure you get the most accurate results possible. They might also need you to shave your face so that you can get the most accurate fit possible.

How Often Should You Have It Done?

OSHA guidelines say that you need mask fit testing done at least once every year. Additionally, you might need extra testing if you get a new mask or if anything alters your face shape. For instance, some dental work can change the shape of your jaw, and if you lose enough weight, that can reshape your face as well. Be sure that you don’t confuse this schedule with your user seal check. You should be checking the seal yourself every time you put your respirator on. Unfortunately, fit testing cannot be done on your own. If you want to get started on the mask fit testing process so that you stay safe and comply with OSHA guidelines, contact Professional Fit Testing Services today!

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