Does respirator fit testing require any training?

Q:

Does respirator fit testing require any training? What's involved in it and how often does it have to be done?

A:

Respirator fit testing is an important step to ensuring the safety of workers exposed to a number of chemical, biological, or particulate hazards. So, you might be surprised to learn that OSHA doesn't require any specific training or certification to perform a respirator fit test.

But that doesn't mean you can't make a smart decision about who handles the testing.

OSHA notes that the individual assigned to perform the fit test should be able to follow detailed instructions and be familiar with various types of fit testing.

Assign testing duties to someone who knows how a well-fitted mask feels and is aware of the variables that can affect the fit. They should know, for instance, that growing or shaving off facial hair can affect the respirator's ability to create the seal that protects the wearer from exposure.

Realize that the employer is ultimately responsible for the accuracy of the respirator fit test, so it's important to ensure that testers are well versed in both Qualitative and Quantitative Fit Testing protocols.

Finally, anyone charged with performing respirator fit tests should be instructed on how to keep excellent records of each test performed. This will ensure that the respirators are checked annually, which is required not only to remain compliant but also to keep employees safe while performing their work.

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Written by Zac Brough
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Zac Brough currently serves as President of SafetyWear, a division of Sullivan-Brough, Inc. Zac has over 18 years of safety distribution experience having worn nearly every hat within the SafetyWear organization. He is a second-generation owner of the family business which celebrates 40 years in 2017. SafetyWear has been a member of SMG since April, 2001 and in that time, has achieved both Gold and Peak Performer status as well as earning The President’s Choice Award. Zac has also served on various SMG distributor committees over the years.

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