How long must fit test records need to be retained and who is responsible for keeping copies?

Q:

How long must respirator fit test records need to be retained and who is responsible for keeping copies?

A:

OSHA mandates that respirators must be regularly tested in order to ensure that they fit workers properly and protect them from a range of airborne environmental contaminants.

Once the tests have been completed, a wide range of data is compiled on the respirator fit test record. This includes important details, such as whether the test meets OSHA standards and whether the conducted test was quantitative or qualitative. Most importantly, fit test records include information about the specific respirator that was tested (make, model, style and size) and if it passed or failed the test.

Given how important fit test records are for ensuring that the workplace is as safe as possible for employees, it's not surprising that companies want to follow all rules and recommendations stipulated by OSHA on storing these records. At the same time, however, companies are often crunched for space and time, meaning they do not want to hang on to unnecessary paperwork indefinitely (read more in Safety Logs: Why Documentation is Important).

So, what is the requirement for maintaining fit test records? The OSHA-issued requirements are not particularly onerous. Fit test record documentation only needs to be held until the next fit test is carried out, at which point the old records can be disposed of. Since the Centers for Disease Control recommend fit testing be carried out at least once per year (and sometimes more frequently, depending on circumstances), this means that no organization will have to hold on to records for more than a year at a time.

Finally, as noted above, it is the responsibility of the company to maintain these records. Some companies may choose, for any reason, to provide their employees with a copy of these records as well.

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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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