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A respirator fit test ensures the proper fit of a respirator. All workers who use any respirator must be fit tested at least every 2 years or if there has been a significant change in the shape of the face through weight gain, weight loss, dental surgery or facial surgery.
Each make, model and size mask needs to be fit tested. For example, you are fit tested on a 3M half face mask size M, then you are given a different make of mask even though they are the same style the new mask needs fit testing as all makes and models fit differently. Half face, full face and N95 (disposable) masks must be fit tested including N95 masks.
There are two types of respirator fit testing, Qualitative and Quantitative.
Qualitative Respirator Fit Testing
This is the most common type of testing as the equipment is inexpensive. It is done with a hood and a solutions sprayed into the hood. First the participant puts on the hood and a solution is sprayed in to the hood to determine sensitivity and number of sprays that will be required for the testing. Once determined the wearer will be shown how to don the mask properly and conduct a seal test. The hood is then put on the participant wearing the mask. A series of exercises are done to imitate a person working while wearing the mask. This it to ensure the mask keeps its seal when the wearer is moving the head or body. If the wearer does not taste the solution during the testing it is considered a pass.
Quantitative Respirator Fit Testing
Quantitative testing is conducted using a portacount. This type of testing eliminates the need for the wearer to indicate anything to the tester. It is all done by the equipment using air to and does not rely on the sensitivity of the user as it indicates the fit factor measurement of the mask to user. This type of respirator fit test is more accurate.
It is important to know that a person need to be clean shaven to wear or be fit tested on or use a respirator. If the wearer has facial hair a true seal cannot be accomplished. There are some exceptions with mustaches and goatees, the tester will determine if the wearer can be fit tested and will refuse to fit test if the facial hair would interfere with the seal of the mask.
Prior to either of these tests, the tester trains the participant on selection, use and care of respirators.
A card and confirmation of fit test is given to the participant. The card and confirmation states the make, mode and size of the respirator.