What is respirator fit testing and why should you care?

Working with harmful airborne substances can pose serious health risks to workers. Having a good and reliable respirator protects them from these harmful substances. To be effective though, a respirator should be properly fitted to the user. This is done through proper fit testing. There are many facilities that do respirator fit testing Brisbane wide. But what is respirator fit testing and how does it work?

What is respirator fit testing and why is it done?

Form-fitting respirators work by creating a tight seal on the user’s face. This seal prevents the user from inhaling contaminants, such as fine dust, asbestos, or toxic gases.

Respirators are used primarily in industries where workers interact with harmful particulates that go airborne. An ill-fitted respirator can cause leaks in the seal, therefore, a respirator must be properly fitted to the specific user.

This is a procedure done by most respirator fit testing Brisbane companies to make sure that respirators are properly protecting the user from the ambient atmosphere. There are different tests available for different kinds of respirators, but they usually fall into two categories: qualitative and quantitative tests.

Qualitative Tests

Qualitative tests are a kind of wellness assessment test that relies on the subject’s senses to detect leaks. The tests use non-toxic substances that have a distinct smell or taste. They are done by first introducing the substance to the subject to make sure that they can detect the substance properly. They are then made to wear the respirator and the substance is then reintroduced. The substances used are as follows:

Isoamyl acetate – has a distinct smell of bananas

Saccharin – has a sweet taste and is used as an artificial sweetener

Bitrex – tastes bitter

Quantitative Tests

Quantitative tests, on the other hand, use precise measuring instruments to detect gaps and leaks in the respirator’s seal. These instruments then output a number called the Fit Factor (FF). There are three kinds of qualitative tests which are the following:

Generated Aerosol – uses a harmless aerosol in a test chamber

Condensation Nuclei Counter – uses ambient aerosol

Negative Pressure – creates a temporary vacuum to measure airflow

These tests give a more precise measurement than qualitative tests because they use sensitive equipment to detect airflow. They do not require the user’s senses to detect the test substance, but rather use instrument sensors to detect them. Most shops offer respirator fit testing Brisbane wide.

When should you test?

Fit testing and other occupational health assessments should be done before the user uses the respirator for the first time. The respirator should then be retested annually after that. Refitting should also be made when the user undergoes a significant change in their faces. This may include:

Gaining or losing significant weight

Facial surgery or scarring

Major dental work

These can affect the seal of the respirator and should be accounted for.

Get precise fitting with Resile

Resile PTY LTD is an occupational health consultancy that aims to help companies with any occupational health needs. The experts at Resile PTY LTD can conduct on-site fit testing for you. Visit www.resile.com.au to know more.

Post Author: Camille