A great amount of care goes into the design and manufacture of all respirators to provide the greatest amount of protection possible. It is just as important to ensure that the respirator fits properly on the user. This requires that the face to facepiece seal be properly checked.
There are two basic fit test methods for evaluating the face to facepiece seal. These methods are qualitative and quantitative fit tests. Test agents are used to detect whether the wearer is getting the proper face to facepiece seal with the chosen respirator.
A qualitative or quantitative fit test must be performed before a respirator is assigned. Refer to current OSHA and/or NIOSH regulations, current ANSI Standards and all other applicable regulations for complete details.
The qualitative test relies on the subject’s voluntary or involuntary response, i.e., taste, smell or irritation to the test agent. If the subject detects the test agent at any time during the test, the respirator does not fit properly. The test agents now approved by OSHA are irritant smoke, isoamyl acetate (banana oil), saccharin, and BITREX® (Denatonium Benzoate). The qualitative method used by Moldex is BITREX®. BITREX® can be used to fit test any of our respirators. It is a harmless bitter aerosol which is very noticeable if it penetrates the seal of the respirator.
The quantitative test measures the concentration of a test agent within the respirator facepiece and does not depend on a subject’s voluntary or involuntary response to the challenge agent. The quantitative tests approved by OSHA are Portacount, and Controlled Negative Pressure (CNP). Moldex supports either method.
Warning: The user must ensure compliance with the necessary elements of a comprehensive respiratory protection program including OSHA 1910.134 and/or state or local regulations as appropriate, prior to fit testing. This includes but is not limited to proper testing and medical surveillance.
A. FIT TEST POLICY
1. OSHA requires that a respirator must be fit tested before it can be issued to a user in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.134 (f).
2. Fit testing ensures that a respirator fits each individual wearer and is not the same as a user seal check.
3. A new fit test must be conducted any time the user changes respirator models or sizes.
4. The test subject must be clean-shaven. Do not test a subject with a beard or other facial hair, which prevents contact between the face and the seal of the respirator.
5. Users must follow the instructions each time the respirator is worn.
6. If you cannot obtain a proper fit do not enter the contaminated area and see your supervisor.
7. Other PPE must not interfere with face to facepiece seal.
B. TEST FREQUENCY AND TYPE
1. Quantitative or Qualitative fit tests will be performed at the time of initial fitting and at least every 12 months, or more frequently if required by a substance specific OSHA regulation or other regulation, for each employee who wears a negative pressure respirator.
C. STANDARD REQUIREMENTS
1. The test administrator will explain the test procedures in detail to the test subject before any testing takes place.
2. The test subject will wear the respirator for at least 5 minutes before starting the fit test.
3. This procedure should only be PART of the employee’s total respiratory training. The employee must be properly trained on how to put on the respirator prior to the application of this testing procedure.
Before performing a Fit Test, instruct the user how to properly fit the respirator and to perform a user seal check. Instructions are provided for Moldex disposable respirators.
D. USER SEAL CHECK
1. A seal check is required each time the respirator is donned and prior to entering a contaminated area.
2. A seal check is performed by the wearer to determine if it has properly sealed before entering a contaminated area.
3. The seal check does not take the place of fit testing.
E. USER SEAL CHECK INSTRUCTIONS
Refer to appropriate chapter for Disposable Respirators.
WARNING: If you cannot obtain a proper fit, do not enter the contaminated area and see your supervisor. Entry into a contaminated area with an improper fit may result in sickness or death.
1. Review NIOSH/DHHS label in approval section of disposable respirator box or bag or NIOSH Matrix with cartridges or filters.
G. CANADIAN LEGISLATIVE AND REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT
[For specific details for Canada, refer to CAN/CSA Z94.4-11 Respiratory Protection]
The following are significant differences that apply to Moldex Products
• Fit testing is required every two years in Canada as opposed to 1 year in the US.
• Each exercise must be carried out for at least 30 seconds. In the US, 1 minute is required.
• Quantitative Fit Testing does not require the grimace exercise in Canada whereas it is required in the US.
• Health Surveillance Questionnaire is more detailed in the US standard.
• A safety factor of 20 is applied to quarter mask supplied air respirators, this is not applied as such in the US.
• Breathing gas for SCBA uses a Canadian standard.
• SCBAs for emergency use are not required to be inspected monthly in Canada as they are in the US.
• Discarding of air in SCBA cylinders is required in Canada if they have not been used in any 12 month period. This is not required in the US.
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