A Simple Guide to Respirator Fit Testing

Posted on: 18 March 2022

Most industries, especially those dealing with processing and manufacturing, are typically associated with hazardous fumes, dust particles and airborne substances. Exposure to these hazards can significantly affect your workers' health. Remember, the health and safety of your team are paramount, and one way of guaranteeing that is by providing respiratory protective equipment (RPEs) to every team member working in hazardous environments.

Generally, RPEs protects the wearer from the effects of harmful airborne contaminants on their respiratory system. However, since there are numerous respirators on the market, it's challenging to know which type can offer the highest level of protection. For this reason, conducting respirator fit testing is the surest way to be certain of the type of respirators employees use and whether they offer adequate protection.

Respirator fits testing ensures that the respiratory protective equipment fits comfortably and appropriately on the wearer's face. In turn, this helps provide the best protection level for the wearer. Ideally, there are three main aspects of respirator fit testing, including;

The Respirator's Seal

A proper seal means the respiratory protective equipment will seal the user's skin. Generally, respirators can only function when air goes through an air filter. Any problems with the seal can potentially allow the contaminated air in, lessening the protection. In turn, this puts the user's respiratory health at risk.

The Compatibility with Other PPEs

Personal protective equipment like face shields, safety goggles, coveralls and hearing aids can compete with RPEs for space on the wearer's face. For example, half-face respirators that are too large might compromise fit by overlapping with your safety glasses. If this scenario becomes more repetitive, it impairs the glasses' effectiveness and might interfere with the respirator's seal.

The Respirator's Stability

During respirator fit tests, the better this protective equipment fits, the more stable it'll be on the user's face. In short, a fit test helps evaluate the respirator's capability to retain its seal while in use or when the worker is in motion. That's why workers might be requested to undergo various exercises as part of the respirator fit testing process. Ideally, respirators that cat maintain their position or shifts during movement might not be fit to hold their seals in place.

When Should You Perform a Respirator Fit Test?

A respirator fit test is necessary every time you have a new worker reporting to work on their first day. Furthermore, it is a mandatory process for all employees working in complex environments. You can opt for reusable or disposable respirators that are either full- or half-face.

For more information, contact a local company, like FitTick.