Respirator Fit Testing

A key component to any Respiratory Protection program is fit testing employees to the correct respirator. Ensuring a proper face seal is at the very heart of preventing adverse risk to respirator users, which is why fit testing is so important. The two types of fit testing include quantitative or qualitative, which is determined by the properties of the hazardous agents, and the type of work settings and tasks requiring the use of respiratory protection.

The type of respirator often determines the type of fit testing that needs to be conducted. It is recommended that high hazard settings or those requiring self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBAs), otherwise known as supplied air tanks, require quantitative fit testing done by a licensed occupational health professional. Quantitative fit testing includes sitting in an isolation booth where real-time measurements are conducted both inside and outside the respiratory devise. This ensures a good face seal that will not jeopardize the employee’s safety. As discussed on the Respiratory Protection page air sampling and employee monitoring informs the program administrator of the risks from the contaminants. This information dictates the type of respiratory device necessary and whether to conduct quantitative or qualitative fit testing.

When issuing air purifying respirators, or those with filter cartridges, qualitative fit-testing is conducted. ARC Enterprises uses an isolation hood and a strong odor-producing material (often banana oil) to determine a good face seal.

Before fit-testing is done, a make and model of respirator should be selected. Fit testing a number of employees also requires purchasing several sizes (S, M, L) to accommodate differences in facial features and head sizes. Men must be clean-shaven for either type of fit testing and a series of exercises will be performed to detect a good face seal.

There is more to these programs than meets the eye, and ARC Enterprises will guide you through the process to ensure your employee’s safety.

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