Fit Testing of Respiratory Protective Equipment

How long does a mask fit test take?

When it comes to occupational health and safety (OHS), the significance of respiratory protection cannot be overstated. Among the various measures to ensure worker safety in environments with potential airborne hazards, mask fit testing stands out as a critical component. EVA and Associates, as a leader in providing accredited RESP-FIT training courses, emphasises the importance of understanding not just the "how" but also the "how long" of mask fit testing.

The Essence of Mask Fit Testing

Mask fit testing is a procedure designed to verify that a specific make, model, and size of a respirator fits the wearer’s facial features correctly. This is vital because the effectiveness of a respirator in providing protection against airborne contaminants depends significantly on its ability to form a proper seal with the wearer’s face. Without a good fit, workers are at risk of inhaling hazardous substances, which can lead to serious health issues.

EVA and Associates’ RESP-FIT Accreditation Training Course outlines the importance of fit testing as part of a comprehensive respiratory protection program. The course highlights that fit testing is not just about compliance but ensuring that every worker goes home safely at the end of the day.

Duration of Mask Fit Testing

So, how long does a mask fit test take? Typically, the process can be completed within 15 to 20 minutes per individual. This timeframe includes the necessary steps to ensure a thorough evaluation, such as:

Preparation: Before the actual testing begins, the individual undergoes a brief training or instruction session on how to properly don the mask. This phase ensures that the wearer is comfortable with the respirator and understands how to adjust it for a snug fit.

Fit Test Procedures: The fit test itself involves performing a series of exercises under a controlled test environment. These exercises are designed to simulate various movements and conditions the wearer might encounter in the workplace. The objective is to assess the respirator’s fit during these activities, ensuring no leakage occurs.

Evaluation and Documentation: After the test, the results are evaluated to determine if the respirator provides an adequate seal. If the test is successful, documentation is provided to the wearer, confirming the make, model, and size of the respirator that fits them correctly. This documentation is crucial for compliance and record-keeping purposes.

It’s important to note that while the testing process may seem brief, its impact on worker safety is long-lasting. EVA and Associates stress the importance of not rushing through this process. Each step is critical to ensuring the integrity of the respiratory protection program.

EVA and Associates’ Approach to Efficient and Effective Mask Fit Testing

EVA and Associates recognize the importance of efficiency in conducting mask fit tests without compromising the quality and thoroughness of the testing process. The RESP-FIT Accreditation Training Course offered by EVA equips professionals with the knowledge and skills to conduct fit testing accurately and effectively, ensuring that each minute of the process contributes to the overarching goal of workplace safety.

Moreover, EVA and Associates advocate for a proactive approach to respiratory protection, encouraging regular fit testing and training to adapt to any changes in the wearer’s facial features, the work environment, or the type of respirators used. This commitment to ongoing education and compliance with the latest OHS and environmental standards underscores EVA’s role in fostering safer work environments.

How long does a mask fit test take

How long does a mask fit test take? Typically, it ensures a secure seal in 15-20 minutes for safety and accuracy.

Keep your workforce safe with Eva & Associates quantitative respirator fit testing services for industrial workers.

We are recognised as a Preferred Fit Test Service Provider by the 3M PPE Fit Testing program.

Contact us to learn more about your eligibility for a subsidised fit test.

3M is a registered trademark of 3M Company.
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Respirator Fit Testing

Fit testing measures the effectiveness of the seal between the respirator and the wearer’s face. It is required for all tight-fitting respirators, including:

  • half-face disposable
  • half-face reusable
  • full-face reusable
  • tight-fitting powered air purifying respirators (PAPR)

There are two methods of fit testing that meet AS/NZS1715:2009 Selection, use and maintenance of respiratory protective equipment; Qualitative and Quantitative. Quantitative fit testing will be conducted in this instance.

Quantitative Fit Testing

Uses specialised particle counting equipment to measure how much air leaks into the respirator. In effect, the instrument measures the concentration of particles outside the mask and compares this to the concentration of particles within the face piece, with the ratio of the two producing a fit factor which determines whether an appropriate fit has occurred. This type of test can be used on half-face respirators, full-face respirators and PAPR.

In both the qualitative and quantitative methods, the participant is asked to complete simple movements including head side to side, head up and down and talking to simulate movements that one would expect at the workplace.

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Quantitative or Qualitative

Quantitative fit testing results are more objective than qualitative due in most part to the reliance on the olfactory senses of the participant to determine pass/fail in the qualitative technique. This can result in a potential for a false pass to the qualitative fit test and worker health not being adequately protected.

AS 1715:2009 requires all fit testing must be carried out by a competent in-house person, manufacturer, supplier or consultant and be conducted:

  • at least once annually;
  • before wearing a tight-fitting respirator for the first time;
  • each time a new make or model of respirator is issued;
  • whenever there is a change in the wearer’s facial characteristics or features which may affect the facial seal (e.g. large weight loss or gain).

Note: Facial hair that lies along the sealing surface of a tight-fitting respirator will stop it sealing properly. Fit testing must be carried out on males who are clean shaven or have no hair between their face and the fitting surfaces of the respirator face piece.

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