Do I need my own mask to fit test?
Often the question comes up for workers who need fit testing–especially for service contractors who are going into H2S prone areas for the first time–if they need their own respirator prior to fit testing. In general, we can find no rule or guideline that would require an oilfield worker to complete fit testing with their own respirator. It is possible to perform oilfield fit testing with a loaner set of masks although there are some benefits to using your own mask for respirator fit testing in addition to negatives to using a loaner.
Fit Test Respirator Confirmation
One benefit to fit testing in your own mask is that you have confirmed the integrity of your own mask during the respiratory fit test. This is a secondary benefit, however, as the primary purpose of fit testing is matching the proper size of respirator seal to the oilfield worker’s face as well as confirming the integrity of the respirator. There is not any regulation that we are aware of that requires testing of each individual masks other than that done during routine inspection and donning. The additional cost of purchasing your own mask and being fit tested within that mask may be worth the extra confirmation that the respirator seal will still protect against harmful atmospheres such as H2S.
Fit Test Match
Another benefit to fit testing with your own mask is that you are always matched with the model and size that you will use in the field. This is not optional as a fit test for one brand of respirator in not valid for any other brand or size. Whichever size(s) of mask your test(s) passes you must use that particular size when in the oilfield. By using your own respirator during the fit test this virtually guarantees that you won’t mismatch brands at a later date as long as you only use your own equipment.
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