What is Fit Testing? The Proper Use of Respirators in the Workplace

Do your employees need to wear respirators on the job?

If so, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and State OSHA Agencies require them to be fit tested.

It is your responsibility to fit test your workers and to provide OHSA-required respiratory protection training ─ covering topics such as the correct way to put on and remove a respirator and how to use, clean and properly maintain the device. Additionally, you must ensure each employee is medically able to wear a respirator, prior to fit testing them.

A respirator can’t do its job if it doesn’t protect a person’s face. Tight-fitting respirators won’t work properly if they don’t form a tight seal with the face or neck. If the device doesn’t fit properly, your employees may breathe in hazardous substances that leak into their respirator facepiece.

What is a Fit Test?

A fit test checks the seal between the respirator’s facepiece and your employee’s face. This 15-20 minute test must be performed at least annually. Upon successful completion of the test, you must provide the person with the exact same make, model, style and size respirator for use at work.

There are Two Different Types of Fit Tests

  • Qualitative Fit Testing: This pass/fail test uses the person’s sense of taste or smell or their reaction to an irritant to identify leaks in the facepiece of the respirator.
  • Quantitative Fit Testing: Typically used for half-mask respirators, this test uses a machine to measure the actual amount of leakage into the facepiece. The person’s sense of taste, smell or irritation is not used to find leakage ─ instead using a probe attached to the facepiece that is connected to the machine by a hose.

As an employer, you have the option of completing fit testing yourself or outsourcing the job to a third-party. OSHA does allow “fit testing portability” ─ permitting you to accept fit testing an employee received from a third party, such as a former employer, within the past 12 months. However, it is important to note the same respirator make, model, style and size must be used.

At Eco-Rental Solutions, we truly believe there is nothing more important than the safety of your employees. Our team is proud to provide our customers with what we feel are the best instruments on the market. We’re fully equipped to serve the entire United States, with environmental rental, sales and service locations in Elmsford, NY; Rochester, NY; San Diego, CA; St. Louis, MO; Tustin, CA and Oakland, CA. Contact us to learn more!