What sort of procedures and exercises can one expect to perform during the fit test?
Respirator fit tests are meant to assess the effectiveness of a mask in a variety of circumstances in order to ensure it will function properly for the employee. Of course, this means there is more to the test than standing still or sitting down since most jobs that require the use of a respirator also involve much more activity. The good thing is that there’s nothing too scary or rigorous involved in fit tests (read about the 6 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Respiratory Protection Device).
- The test will begin with establishing a baseline – in this case, a normal standing position with normal breathing
- Next, the worker will be instructed to vary his or her breathing, generally taking slow, deep breaths. The tests increase in complexity, beginning with a series of simple head movements followed by speaking loud enough to be heard and (depending on the type of test being conducted) grimacing for fifteen seconds
- Provided the mask is still functioning as expected, the employee will be asked to bend forward at the waist as if to touch his or her toes. Fit tests conclude with a return to the employee’s normal stance while breathing normally for one full minute.
Remember, the point is to ensure that the mask fits well and maintains an effective seal so that irritants cannot leak through. Taking a few minutes to make sure the full range of exercises are performed is crucial to keep workers safe.
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