Respirator Fit Test
What is fit testing?
Respirators must seal to the wearer’s face so they can prevent exposure from hazardous substances such as fumes, chemicals, dust, or infectious particles.
A fit test is capable of determining the seal between the respirator’s face piece and the face. Testing should be in accordance with Australian New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 1715:2009, the standard for the selection, use and maintenance of respiratory protective equipment.
This standard offers information to employers and users on different types of respiratory protective equipment (RPE), how to select the right type for the job and how to correctly maintain it.
Employers are required to take the appropriate measures involving respiratory protection to ensure the health and safety of employees.
CC Training Academy offers a convenient respirator fit testing service or face fit testing that we can conduct at our facility in Takapuna or at your workplace.
Types of respirator fit tests
There are two types of face fit testing available: qualitative and quantitative.
A qualitative fit test (QLFT) may be used to fit-test:
- Negative-pressure, air-purifying respirators, as long as they’ll only be used in atmospheres where the hazard is at less than 10 times the permissible workplace exposure standard.
- Tight fitting face pieces used with powered and atmosphere-supplying respirators.
It includes workers that would be required to wear either a disposable paper mask or respirators that just cover the nose and mouth (half-mask respirators).
QLFT is based on a subjective pass/fail system and looks for leakages based on the wearer’s sense of smell and taste. The accepted testing agents include:
- Isoamyl acetate (banana smell); only for testing respirators with organic vapour cartridges.
- Saccharin (sweet taste); can test respirators with a particulate filter of any class.
- Bitrex® (bitter taste); can also test respirators with particulate filters of any class.
The QLFT method uses exercises based on official fit testing protocols performed for one minute each, including: normal breathing, deep breathing, moving the head from side to side, moving the head up and down, bending over or jogging in place, talking, and normal breathing again.
Quantitative fit tests (QNFT) on the other hand are done to fit test any full face and/or tight-fitting respirator. It involves the use of a special instrument to measure the leakage around the face seal of the respirator and produces a numerical result called a fit factor.
The result would indicate whether or not the respirator is able to provide sufficient protection for the wearer. For instance, a fit factor of at least 100 is required for half-mask respirators while a minimum fit factor of 500 or 1000 is adequate for a full face piece negative-pressure respirator.
How we do our qualitative fit testing
Prior to the testing, we will contact you to discuss the brands and types of respirators used in your workplace. You will be asked to supply samples of the respirators and filters depending on the number of individuals to be fit tested, if the test is being carried out retrospectively.
If respirators have not already been issued, one will be specified and provided at the time of the test.
Each test should last approximately 30 minutes, so time slots must be allocated if you have multiple employees that need to undergo the test. You should not eat or drink anything other than water within 30 minutes of your test.
It is important for you to be clean shaven prior to the test to ensure accuracy.
Each individual who will undergo the evaluation will be notified of the outcome of their face fit test during their appointment.
The employee will be issued a qualitative fit test certificate that summarises the results of the evaluation including the testing agent used, the exercises conducted, and the pass/fail remark.
We are using the 3M Qualitative Fit Test Kit to deliver this service. Contact us if you need more details of if you have any questions.