Companies have asked us what is needed to perform a fit test. The fit test should be performed according to your respiratory protection program consistent with OSHA 1910.134. This is a good time to review that program if you have not yet done so.

Start with your respiratory protection program

Once you have reviewed your respiratory protection program, you will realize that there are three basic things you need to perform a fit test. First, you need the proper test equipment. Next you must have a proper respirator for the test user. Finally, you need a competent person to administer the test.

Select your fit testing equipment

Select the fit test equipment. It must be able to meet the needs laid out in your respiratory protection program. You may choose equipment that is either quantitative or qualitative. Quantitative fit testing uses a machine to make direct measurements and calculate a fit factor. For the quantitative test the fit factor must be checked against your respiratory protection program to make sure it is high enough. A qualitative test uses a smoke or mist.  The qualitative test relies on the users’ sense of smell. This type of test will produce a pass or fail result depending on if the user can detect the chemical agent used while wearing the respirator.

Users select respirators for the fit test

Next, help the user to find a proper respirator. The user should select the respirator that they think will fit them best from a selection based on the requirements laid out in the respiratory protection program. Depending on the type of respirator and the fit test equipment, an adapter may be required before the test can be performed. Keep in mind that not all sets of testing equipment will work with all respirators. Also, when performing a fit test on an N95 respirator, a quantitative test will destroy the mask in order to build a port for the machine to hook into.

Get trained to perform a fit test

Finally, get someone who is qualified to administer the test. This person should be qualified by experience, training, or recognized degree. The test administrator must be able to competently communicate with the test users, fill out the paperwork and documentations, as well as have a good understanding of the fit test process. If you need a better understanding of the fit testing process then our fit testing train the trainer program is an excellent method to build the needed competence.

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