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What is OSHA Fit Testing and Why Does it Matter?

By Flavia Lima March 13, 2021

osha fit testing

If you work in any field that requires workers to wear Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE), you’ll need the said equipment to go through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fit testing first. This is especially vital in industries such as chemical, agriculture, mining, or construction as workers in these environments have greater exposure to toxic airborne contaminants.

What is OSHA Fit Testing?

A fit test is designed to test the seal between your face and the respirator’s facepiece. It takes nearly 15-30 minutes to complete and should be performed at least once a year. Once you have passed the OSHA fit testing with a respirator, you must use the exact same model, size, and style respirator while on the job. A tight seal made around the respirator and the face is critical to prevent exposure to contaminants.

Any employee who works in a position regulated by OSHA Respirator Standard CFR 1910.134 must undergo OSHA fit testing before working with a new mask. Or, if something happens that changes the employee’s facial characteristics, such as a cosmetic surgery or significant weight loss/gain, it also calls for a respirator fit test.

Frequent tests make sure that the mask is providing continued and maximum protection against facial changes and mask wear-and-tear. According to OSHA, Respirator fit testing on the state and federal level are mandatory for most localities. Employers or organizations that fail to comply with this regulation, can be fined up to $7,000 for the first-time offense and up to $70,000 for repeated offenses.

The easiest way to safeguard your workers and avoid costly penalties is to undergo a respirator fit testing that averages under $100.

How to Prepare for OSHA Fit Testing? 

Before a worker starts their fit test, they need to do a few things to prepare first:

Choose a respirator: When selecting a respirator or mask, employers should consider what toxins their worker is exposed to, time spent exposed, job responsibilities, the concentration of the toxins, and more. The equipment must be NIOSH-approved, and the worker must bring their chosen respirator to their test. 

Bring personal protective equipment (PPE): If the worker wears any other PPE that could interfere with their respirator’s seal, they are required to bring those items to their OSHA fit testing. This can include coveralls, hard hats, face shields, hearing protection, and safety glasses.

Shave: The male workers must be clean-shaven during their OSHA fit testing, since facial hair can interfere with the fit of the respirator. 

Medical assessment: Before an employee can be fit-tested, they must fill out OSHA’s medical evaluation questionnaire. The employer or organization is mandated to provide time for their workers to complete this form, which will be reviewed by a licensed healthcare provider or a physician.

Contact Us For On-Site Fit Testing and Training

At Professional Fit Testing Services, we can provide quality yet cost-effective on-site OSHA fit testing for all your employees. Our team will help you comply with OSHA respirator fit testing requirements, fill out the paperwork, and provide respirator fit test kits as well.

To make sure your employees’ fit testing goes without a hitch, we will provide a link and login to the medical evaluation questionnaire as well. Schedule your OSHA fit testing today by calling us at (336) 802-1759 or simply send us a message online.

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