Fit testing is required for employees wearing tight-fighting respirators, such as disposable or reusable respirators. This procedure helps ensure the user has selected the correct size respirator and that a seal against the face can be made in order to provide the expected protection.
OSHA requires qualitative or quantitative fit testing before a user wears a mandatory respirator on the job, and must be assessed at least annually. In addition, fit tests should be performed:
A qualitative fit test (QLFT) may only be used to fit-test:
QLFT is pass/fail and relies on the user’s senses using one of four OSHA-accepted test agents:
Each QLFT method uses seven exercises performed for 1 minute each:
A quantitative fit test (QNFT) can be used to fit-test any tight-fitting respirator. It involves using an instrument to measure leakage around the face seal and produces a numerical result called a “fit factor.” There are three OSHA-accepted QNFT test protocols:
QNFTs use the same seven exercises as QLFTs, plus an additional “grimace” test where the subject smiles or frowns for 15 seconds.
A fit factor of at least 100 is required for half-mask respirators and a minimum fit factor of 500 for a full facepiece negative-pressure respirator.
View our online catalog of products to help you run a successful fit testing program.
A good fit means the respirator will seal 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 the lessen the protection.
Safety glasses, hearing protection, face shields, hard hats and coveralls can all vie with a respirator for real estate on a person's face, head or body.
To catch these problems before they happen on the job, OSHA requires any PPE that could interfere with the respirator's seal to be worn during the fit test.
A user seal check ensures the tight-fitting respirator is being worn right each time the user puts on the respirator. Employees are required to do so by OSHA regulations unless the use is voluntary
Users can either perform a positive-pressure or negative-pressure seal check as described in the product User Instructions.
Positive-pressure seal check means blocking the exhalation valve on a half or full facepiece respirator or covering the respirator surface on a filtering facepiece, usually by using your hands, and trying to breathe out. If slight pressure builds up, that means air isn't leaking around the edges of the respirator.
Negative-pressure check involves blocking the intake valves on a half or full facepiece respirator or covering the respirator surface on a filtering facepiece, typically using your hands and trying to breathe in. If no air enters, the seal is tight.