The first thing employers need to know is that Labor & Industries and OSHA check fit test cards, and they are serious about annual re-tests. You can not put an employee that has fit-tested for a North 7700 into a 3M-6300, or arbitrarily put that employee into a Type-C, or SCBA, without a new fit test.
Trust us on this one, the cost of a new fit test is but a fraction of a Labor and Industry HEFTY FINE.
All employees using a negative or positive pressure tight-fitting facepiece respirator must pass an appropriate qualitative fit test (QLFT) or quantitative fit test (QNFT). Fit testing is required prior to initial use, whenever a different respirator facepiece is used, and at least annually thereafter.
An additional fit test is required whenever the employee reports, or the employer or PLHCP makes visual observations of changes in the employee’s physical condition that could affect respirator fit (e.g., facial scarring, dental changes, cosmetic surgery, or an obvious change in body weight).
The fit test shall be administered using an OSHA-Accepted QLFT or QNFT Protocol, as contained in OSHA Respiratory Protection (Standards 29 CFR), 1910.134 App A.
Respirators that don’t seal properly around the face offer only the illusion of protection. To accommodate the variability of face size characteristics among individuals, a number of manufacturers offer facepieces in several sizes and models.~
Purpose. The primary purpose of fit testing is to identify the specific make, model, style, and size of respirator best suited for each employee. In addition, fit testing also provides an opportunity to check on problems with respirator wear and reinforces respirator training by having wearers review the proper methods of donning and wearing the respirator.~
Requirement. Fit testing is required for all negative or positive pressure tight-fitting facepiece respirators. The OSHA respiratory protection standard requires that fit testing be performed before an employee first starts wearing a respirator in the work environment, whenever a different respirator facepiece is used, and at least annually thereafter.~
Method. Prior to the actual fit test, the employee must be shown how to put on a respirator, position it on the face, set strap tension, and determine an acceptable fit. Next, the employee must be allowed to choose a respirator from a sufficient number of models and sizes so that the employee can find an acceptable and correctly fitting respirator. Once an acceptable respirator has been found — which takes into account the position of the mask on the face, nose, and cheeks; room for eye protection; and room to talk — a user seal check must be conducted.~
Types of Fit Testing. Fit testing may either be qualitative (QLFT) or quantitative (QNFT), and must be administered using an OSHA-accepted QLFT or QNFT protocol. These protocols are described in mandatory Appendix A to 1910.134.
Prior to the commencement of the fit test, the employee must be given a description of the fit test, and a description of the exercises that he or she will be performing during fit testing. The respirator to be tested must be worn for at least five minutes before the start of the fit test. The employee must be fit tested with the same make, model, style, and size of respirator that will be used in the workplace.
Qualitative fit testing (QLFT). Qualitative fit testing involves the introduction of a gas, vapor, or aerosol test agent into an area around the head of the respirator user. A determination is then made as to whether or not the wearer can detect the presence of the test agent through means such as odor, taste, or nasal irritation. If the presence of the test agent is detected inside the mask, the respirator fit is considered to be inadequate. There are four qualitative fit test protocols approved in OSHA’s standard. The isoamyl acetate (IAA) test determines whether a respirator is protecting a user by questioning whether the user can smell the distinctive odor of IAA. Both the saccharin and BitrexTM tests involve substances with distinctive tastes that should not be detected through an effective respirator. The irritant smoke (e.g., stannic chloride) test involves a substance that elicits an involuntary irritation response in those exposed to it. Before conducting a qualitative test, the worker must undergo a sensitivity test to determine if he or she can taste, smell or react to the substance. When performing the isoamyl acetate test, the protocol requires that separate rooms be used for the odor screening and fit tests, and that the rooms be sufficiently ventilated to ensure that there is no detectable odor of IAA prior to a test being conducted. This will prevent olfactory fatigue among workers being fit tested by preventing a buildup of IAA in the general room air.
Quantitative fit testing (QNFT). In a quantitative fit test, the adequacy of respirator fit is assessed by numerically measuring the amount of leakage into the respirator. This testing can be done by either generating a test aerosol as a test atmosphere, using ambient aerosol as the test agent, or using controlled negative pressure (CNP) to measure the volumetric leak rate. Appropriate instrumentation is required to quantify respirator fit.
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Respirator Fit Testing for Washington State, Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Porta Count, Qualitative, Quantitative, shipping, marine, mining, painters, painting, asbestos workers, break service and repair, welders, general industry.