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        • Face Fit Test - USA, image 1

        Face Fit Test - USA

        In the United States, face fit testing is an important process to ensure that respiratory protective equipment, such as filtering face fit respirators and tight fitting respirators, properly fit the individual wearer and provide adequate protection. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets the guidelines and regulations related to face fit testing in the workplace.

        OSHA requires employers to conduct fit testing for employees who are required to wear respirators as part of their daily duties. Fit testing must be performed before an employee begins using a respirator and should be repeated periodically to ensure an ongoing proper fit. The specific frequency of fit testing depends on the type of respirator being used.

        There are two main types of fit testing methods recognized by OSHA:

        • Quantitative Fit Testing: This method uses specialized equipment to measure the actual amount of leakage around the face seal of the respirator. It provides a numerical measure of the fit, such as a fit factor.
        • Qualitative Fit Testing: This method relies on the wearer's subjective response to a test agent, such as a sweet or bitter solution, while wearing the respirator. It does not provide a numerical fit factor but determines if the respirator adequately seals to the face.

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        The Current Legislation

        Fit testing must be conducted by a trained individual, often referred to as a "fit tester." The fit tester should follow OSHA's guidelines and protocols for the specific type of fit testing being performed.

        It's important to note that the specific regulations and requirements for face fit testing may vary depending on the industry, type of respirator, and the nature of the work being performed. Employers should consult OSHA standards, such as the Respiratory Protection Standard (29 CFR 1910.134), for detailed information and compliance requirements specific to their situation.

        Additionally, it's worth mentioning that OSHA regulations apply to workplaces and employee safety. Fit testing for personal use, such as for non-work-related purposes or during a public health emergency, may not fall under the same regulatory requirements. However, it is still important to ensure proper fit and seal when using respiratory protective equipment for personal protection.

        The Importance of the Face Fit Test

        In order for a respirator to protect the wearer its imperative that the air they breathe only passes through the filter on the way to their lungs. If the fit is poor, then the wearer runs the risk of the filter being bypassed.
        Any RPE selected must fit when worn in conjunction with other PPE – be that eyewear, hearing protection, hard hats or other forms of protection. The same applies to wearers of prescription glasses.
        When a respirator fits properly, it should be capable of protecting the wearer whatever physical motion the wearer undertakes. A respirator which moves when the wearer is active isn’t able to protect them adequately.