Overview of the Fit Testing Process
Tight-fitting respirators must seal to the wearer’s face in order to provide expected protection. This includes disposable respirators (these also require fit testing). Fit testing is required by Australian New Zealand Standard AS/NZS1715 before a user wears a respirator on the job, and should be assessed at least annually. In addition, fit tests should be performed:
- Whenever a different size, style, model or make of respirator is used.
- When any facial changes occur that could affect fit, such as significant weight fluctuation or dental work.
The better a respirator fits, the more stable it’s likely to be on the wearer’s face. Fit testing determines the respirator’s ability to retain its seal when the worker is in motion. That’s why test subjects are told to go through several exercises as part of testing. A respirator that shifts during movement may not be able to retain its seal.
A good fit means the respirator will seal to your skin. A respirator can only work when air passes through the filter. Air will take the path of least resistance, so if the seal isn’t there, the air will go around rather than through the respirator – and therefore lessen the protection.
Why do a Respirator Fit Test?
- So you know the mask is working correctly – it is removing the hazard and not letting airborne toxins get into your lungs.
- One size does not fit all – there are people that will need to try numerous models and sizes to get one that fits correctly.
- It is a requirement of the AS/NZS 1715:2009 Australian/New Zealand Standard Selection, use and maintenance of respiratory protective devices:
- The proper fitting of respiratory protective equipment requires – “The use of some type of fit test to determine an adequate match between the face piece and the respiratory protective equipment and the face of the wearer.”
We also teach as part of the fit test the correct method of cleaning, storing and maintaining the respiratory equipment.
Once the respirator fit test is successfully completed we will provide the client business with a compliance report.