Respirator Fit Testing
Respirators are an important part of worker personal protective equipment (PPE). They protect you from inhaling dangerous substances such as chemicals, particulates and infectious organisms. A respirator provides filtration of the air being inhaled with some models also having a 1-way valve for exhaled air for enhanced breathability and two-way protection. There are two main types of respirators, disposable and re-usable. Disposable respirators include surgical masks and N-95 particulate masks while re-usable respirators include half-face and full-face respirators.
Fit Testing Protocols
Proper respirator fitting is crucial to ensuring the proper functionality and protective capabilities of a respirator. Respiratory protection is only effective if you know how to put on and take off your respirator and you have kept it in working order. At LEX we offer qualitative and quantitative fit testing to ensure you are wearing the correctly sized respirator. Whether it is an N-95, half-face or a full-face respirator, fit testing is completed as specified by the latest Canadian Standards Association (CSA) method to ensure compliance with Ontario’s Occupational Health & Safety Act (OSHA).
Testing involves correct donning (putting on) of the respirator, checking the seals, and execution of a prescribed number of movements and speaking while wearing the respirator to ensure that the fit of the respirator does not shift over the course of a workday and result in reduced protection.
Everyone who is successfully fit tested is provided a certificate of fit testing which details the day and type of respirator which was used.
Qualitative fit testing involves usage of a specific odours or irritant aerosol which is not detectable when a properly fitted N95 mask is worn. Prior to the fit test, a sensitizing test is completed to ensure that the client can detect the fit test solution. Once this has been confirmed, the test mask is fitted and the aerosol is wafted into a hood and various exercises are completed to test the seal. If the odour is not identified during any of these testing, the respirator is considered to fit correctly.
Quantitative fit testing involves the usage of a particle generator and counter to assess differential particle counts inside and outside the mask for comparison against a given fit factor. A harmless sodium chloride solution is used in a particle generator to provide a particle-rich environment which is then again wafted around the mask to be fitted. Real-time particle count measurements are taken while the client completes a variety of exercises per the CSA standard to ensure a tight fit while in a working environment. The particle counts are then compared to a pre-determined fit-factor to confirm whether the mask fits, adjustments need to be made to strapping, or a different size/manufacturer of mask is required.