The Importance of a Quality Fit Testing Program

June 8, 2017

One of the simplest things managers can do to prepare employees to succeed in a hazardous environment is to provide access to the proper personal protective equipment.   The right equipment is important, and knowing how to put on that equipment is critical for the health and safety of the staff.

A good fit testing program follows OSHA standard and guidelines. Due to the fact that fit testing can be life saving, there are strict rules in place that should be followed when teaching the proper “donning and doffing” technique. Here are some questions we thought might help you prepare your staff for this critical training.

What exactly is “fit testing”?

Fit Testing is the test of the actual skin to mask fit to make sure no particles or contaminants are getting through your respirator. The goal is to make it air tight so you are breathing clean air.

 

Is it a one time test?

No. Individuals need to be tested annually. Interestingly, facial features are constantly changing. Therefore, the mask that fit you a year ago might not be the right fit this year. This is why when fit testing occurs, you are not allowed to have any facial hair. Other features like scars, plastic surgery, dentures, and certain oral surgeries are reasons to fit test again.

 

How does the process work?

There are seven steps when it comes to fit testing, each of which take about seven minutes to do. There is a sensitivity test, exercises, and the rainbow passage you must read after every yearly test. The rainbow passage is a passage used by OSHA that goes through all the movements and motions of your mouth. It is essentially a speech pathology passage. Exercises include jogging in place, bending over and moving your head side to side and up and down.

 

How do I choose a fit test company?

Fit Testing, while simple, is not something that should be shortchanged. Whomever is providing the testing protocol should plan on spending at least 15-30 minutes per person.  They should also provide proof that they follow the steps outlined in OSHA guidelines.  Having fit testers that also use equipment themselves is also good practice since they have personal experience using this equipment.

 

Are there different types of Fit Tests?

Yes. There are two types of fit tests: quantitative and qualitative. Qualitative fit testing relies on your sense of taste and smell. Qualitative tests do not measure the amount of the irritant sprayed, it only tests whether or not your mask is protecting you from leakage. Quantitative tests are normally used for half-mask respirators. They only cover your nose and mouth. During this test, a machine is used to measure the amount, if any, of leakage into the mask.

 

What if my staff is too busy to leave our location to receive their fit testing?

Emilcott can arrange to come onsite to fit test for larger numbers of employees. We even have a bus that can provide fit testing to employees in the field.

 

How do I sign up?

You can call and make an appointment with us at 973-538-1110 or contact us on our website with a question.