Employers And Workers Need To Know This About Face Fit Testing For Respirators

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In Ontario, Occupational Health and Safety legislation often requires face fit testing to be performed as part of a sound overall respiratory protection program, which should also include policies, procedures, and fit test training. They note, “The test must be performed before the worker first uses the respirator.”  The test is often referred to as a 3M fit test since 3M masks are among the most popular.

A “fit test” is performed to determine if a respirator such as an N95 or KN95 mask fits the user’s face properly.  If the respirator is to provide adequate protection it must form a tight seal against the wearer’s face.  Our fit testers use specialized equipment to make this determination.

Mask fit testing is mandatory when a user is required to wear a respirator on the job.  The fit test certification needs to be attained annually or whenever a different size, style, model or make of respirator is used.  Any change in facial hair or significant weight fluctuation would require face fit testing to be renewed as fit could be adversely affected.

There Are Two Kinds Of Tests – Qualitative Fit Test And Quantitative Fit Testing

Fit Test Certification has to be done once annually. Fit Test training available.

Contact Us For Mask Fit Testing For Safety’s Sake

Qualitative Fit Test

The qualitative fit test uses a solution to determine if proper fit for your face has been achieved.  It works like this; you’ll put a special hood over your head without wearing a respirator.  The tester then sprays a sweet or bitter-tasting solution into the hood to determine your ability to detect it.  They’ll increase the mist gradually until you begin to taste it.

You then remove the hood and wait until you no longer taste the solution. You will then don the respirator being fit tested.  Once the tester is confident there is a good seal, you will once again put on the hood. The tester will then spray another solution and have you turn your head from side to side, speak, and nod to simulate real-world conditions.

If you can taste the solution the respirator is not a good fit. If you cannot, then the mask is properly fitted to your face.

Quantitative Fit Testing

Quantitative fit testing is conducted by an operator using an approved quantitative fit testing machine.

Similar to qualitative fit tests, you will simulate real-world conditions.  During this test, the machine will measure the particle count inside the mask compared to that of the air outside the mask.  If the particle count inside the mask is high, a good seal has not been achieved.  If the count is low, the mask is a good fit.


The Fit Test Failed – Now What?

If a test fails it is usually because the respirator is not the right form for the individual or a proper seal was not achieved.  If a seal cannot be created by adjusting the respirator, the worker may get the desired result by switching to a different make and model of respirator.  For this reason, you may want to perform mask fit testing using multiple mask sizes for each employee during their fit test to ensure they find the right respirator for them.

Types Of Respirators That Require Testing

  • Filtering facepieces such as N95 or KN95 masks
  • Half-face respirators
  • Full-face respirators
  • SCBA’s

In Summary

A qualitative fit test or quantitative fit testing must be performed before the worker can perform duties in a workplace requiring a mask. According to Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act “An employer who provides a worker with a respirator shall provide training and instruction to the worker in the care and use of the respirator before the worker first uses the respirator.”

Mask fit testing is critically important to the health and wellbeing of workers. The A properly-fitted respirator can help protect workers from hazardous airborne particles that may lead to disease or illness.

How To Book Your Mask Fit Testing Appointment

Our team and our partner organizations can conduct fit tests at your place of work.  For more information or to book your employee fit tests please call us at (905) 821-8928 or contact us through our special VIP Contact Form.