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Respirator Fit TestingRespirator Fit Testing

Did you know? If you have employees who use respirators, even on an infrequent, limited or emergency basis, they are required to be fit-tested annually? Yes, the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard requires annual face seal fit-testing for employees who wear tight fitting respirators (i.e. APR, SCBA, SAR, PAPR, etc.). The standard does not offer any fit-testing exemptions for employees who use respirators on an infrequent or limited basis.

Routine, annual training and fit-testing is particularly important for companies with Emergency Response Teams (ERT), fire brigades, or other employees performing high hazard operations or maintenance that may periodically use APR, SCBA, or other respiratory protection.

BEFORE the fit-test:

  • The Respiratory Protection Standard also requires that initial and annual respiratory protection training be provided to employees using respirators. This training must include applicable respiratory hazards, proper use in normal and emergency situations, respiratory limitations, proper storage practices, maintenance, inspection, etc.
  • A medical evaluation is required prior to the annual fit-test to assess the employee’s physical ability to safely use a respirator. A written report from the physician is provided to the fit-test technician.
  • The Respiratory Protection Standard also requires that each company evaluate its program to ensure that it is effective. This includes evaluating the components of the written program, respirator selection, training, filter/cartridge change out schedule(s), recordkeeping, maintenance, employee use of respirators, fit-testing, medical evaluations, etc.

Quantitative or Qualitative fit-testing (irritant smoke, banana oil) of respirators is acceptable for employees working in atmospheres up to 10 times the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL). Quantitative fit-testing must be performed for employees who wear respirators when airborne contaminant concentrations may exceed 10 times the PEL. This may include Emergency Response Teams, confined space entry workers, lead abatement workers, etc. Quantitative fit-testing is highly recommended for employees who wear respirators in the absence of exposure monitoring data or when contaminant concentrations are variable.

Sterling & Associates can provide both Quantitative and Qualitative respiratory fit-testing for all types of respiratory protection, however we primarily recommend and conduct Quantitative fit-testing procedures. We follow OSHA fit-testing protocol using the latest in Quantitative (Portacount) fit-testing technology.

Sterling & Associates can develop a custom respiratory protection program for your company or evaluate your existing program. In addition, we can also provide annual respiratory protection training for your employees as required by the OSHA standard, followed by employee fit-testing.

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