In this article, which first appeared in CoatingsPro Magazine in the May 2016 issue, authors Mark Caldwell and Tim Thompson address the importance of using fall protection equipment—for people and for tools—properly.
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.
You’ve put on your respirator and other safety equipment. It’s time to get to work. You know your employer chose appropriate equipment for your job, and you passed your annual respirator fit testing. So you’re good to go, right? Not until you perform one easy task that should be an ingrained habit every time you use a respirator: a user seal check.
3M has been applying fit test science to respirator wearers’ life for years. We even pioneered the creation of the saccharin qualitative fit test protocol – the first qualitative fit test for filtering facepiece respirators based on taste of a test agent.