Industrial Hygiene Tips: Respirator Fit Testing

Man having his respirator fit tested

It's not always easy to improve industrial hygiene, especially in workplaces with so many moving parts--literally and figuratively. Today, we're here with one of our industrial hygiene tips to help protect workers and your bottom line: everything you need to know about respirator fit testing.

Respirator Fit Testing Questions

When it comes to respirator fit testing, there are a lot of things to understand, keep track of, and analyze. Here are the answers to some common respirator fit questions:

"Why test?"

Respirator fit testing helps make sure that respirators are comfortable, effective, and safe for every wearer. This type of testing helps increase industrial hygiene in your workplace and can also prepare you in case of emergency.

Regular respiratory fit testing is also required by the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard.

"How is respirator fit testing performed?"

There are two types of respirator fit testing: qualitative and quantitative.

Qualitative testing does not measure how effective the respirator fit is--only whether it allows any leakage at all. This is done by relying on the wearer's senses to identify the presence of contaminants--for example, by using OSHA-accepted soamly acetate, which, if leaked into the respirator, smells like bananas.

Quantitative testing uses a machine instead of the wearer's senses. Rather than relying on a pass/fail method like in qualitative testing, the machine measures the exact amount of leakage allowed by a respirator fit.

"How often should respirator fit testing occur?"

According to the CDC, respirator fit testing should occur at least annually. You should also perform a new test in other situations--for example, when you get different respirators or switch brands, or when employees have significant facial changes like gaining or losing weight.

Improving Industrial Hygiene

Respirator fit testing is just one way to improve industrial hygiene--but it is, perhaps, among the most important. Since testing must occur for each user at least annually and should take everything into consideration, from overall stability to PPE compatibility to sizing across the bridge of the nose, it can often be difficult to manage without support. That's why onsite and online industrial hygiene courses prepare you to handle every detail confidently and efficiently, all while keeping you up-to-date with OSHA requirements.

In conclusion, respirator fit testing can be a complicated subject, but it is nonetheless a vital step in improving industrial hygiene. However, that doesn't mean you have to tackle it alone. Online or onsite courses give you the flexibility to brush up on industrial hygiene elements in ways that work for you.

Have more questions about respirator fit testing? Looking for more industrial hygiene tips? Contact us today!