What makes respiratory fit testing important

Xyra Gray | January 17, 2020 | 0 | Business Services

Australia’s respiratory protection programme requires businesses and other organisations to provide their employees with respiratory protective equipment (RPE). These RPEs protect individuals from airborne contaminants (asbestos, infectious microorganisms, hazardous chemicals, etc.) and those working in areas with low oxygen levels. However, these respirators have different shapes and sizes, thus the need to avail of respirator fit testing services.

Divers also wear full-faced masks or respirators not only for oxygen supply, but also for pressure control. These diving respirators prevent low altitude medical problems due to sudden changes in pressure.

respirator fit testing services

A respiratory fit testing procedure is used to assess the effectiveness of tight-fitting respirators. This test is done annually to ensure the users are safe from work-related injuries.

Moreover, fit testing should also be done if an employee has undergone any of the following:

  • Major gain or loss of weight
  • Facial injury and operation
  • Major dental works, such as new dentures

Quantitative vs qualitative fit testing

There are two methods to fit-test a respirator. These are quantitative and qualitative.

Qualitative method

This method relies on the user’s sense of smell or taste. Reaction to irritants can also be used to detect any leakage. The user is exposed to test agents, such as isoamyl acetate (banana smell), bitrex (bitter smell), and saccharin (sweet smell).

This method is used only to fit-test the following:

  • Negative-pressure respirators
  • Air-purifying respirators

Quantitative method

This method can fit-test any tight-fitting respirators. This is a more accurate method of testing a respirator because it measures the actual amount of pollutants, microbes, or chemicals that leak into the respirator.

Companies, such as Resile, offer respirator fit testing services that ensure your employees are fully protected. The company offers quantitative fit testing of respirators.

Why is respiratory fit testing important?

Respiratory fit testing ensures that the wearer is well-protected. The test guarantees protection for employees and prevents different injuries classification through the following:

1. Compatibility

A respirator fit test does not only check if the right type of respirator provides protection for that specific job. The test also checks if all the other pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) is compatible with the respirator.

During the test, the user is required to wear all PPEs (goggles, face shields, hard hats, etc.) together with the respirator. This is to check if all the other PPEs do not interfere with the respirator’s seal.

For example, wearing goggles that are too big can cause fog or moisture build-up. This will prevent the respirator to seal properly on the user’s skin.

2. Respirator’s seal

This is the main reason why fit testing is necessary. It will ensure that the respirator adheres properly to the user’s skin. If the respirator does not seal properly, the air is not filtered, allowing harmful chemicals and pollutants to enter the user’s body.

Various classification of injuries can result from ill-fitted respirators. Work-related injuries may include eye and skin irritation, nausea and vomiting, difficulty in breathing, and many more.

3. Stability

The seal of the respirator on the user’s skin may be affected by several factors. That is why during fit testing, various physical exercises are done to check if the respirator’s seal to the skin is stable.

If you would like to ensure the safety of your employees, please visit https://resile.com.au/services/respirator-fit-testing/ to know more about their respirator fit testing services.

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