Why fit test a respirator?
Getting a good fit with a respirator is essential to protect employees against respiratory hazards. If the facepiece doesn’t fit tightly on the employee’s face, the employee could be exposed to the very hazards the respirator is designed to protect against. Because a good fit is so important, fit testing is required in OSHA’s respiratory protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134[f]). The regulations specify two kinds of fit tests: • Qualitative fit tests rely on the employee’s senses of smell and taste to determine if the respirator fits tightly. If the employee doesn’t smell or taste the test agent (bitrex, saccharin, isoamyl acetate, or irritant smoke) during the test, then the fit is good. • Quantitative fit tests use instruments to measure face seal leakage. Which test you have to use depends on employee exposure levels to hazardous air contaminants. For negative-pressure air-purifying respirators, you can use either a qualitative or a quantitative fit test for exposure levels of less t