It is essential that healthcare workers who are exposed to patients who have contracted or are at risk of contracting COVID-19 use personal protective equipment (PPE). Respirators that suit your face correctly, including N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators and elastomeric respirators, reduce the transmission of germs. Your N95 mask must undergo N95 fit testing before you use it for the first time and then once yearly.
Employees who use tight-fitting N95 respirators must undergo fit testing. This technique ensures that the user has chosen the proper size respirator and that a seal against the face can be formed to offer the anticipated protection. Fit testing should be carried out:
Fit testing ensures that you wear the correct respirator to protect yourself from germs and avoid transferring germs to others. Your healthcare institution is required to equip you with suitable PPE, including a properly fitting respirator. Respirator sizes differ across models and brands.
If your profession necessitates using a respirator, such as an N95 FFR, the OSHA requires your healthcare institution to adhere to the Respiratory Protection Standard (29 CFR 1910.134). Respirator fit testing is only one component of a hospital’s Respiratory Protection Program.
OSHA requires tight-fitting respirators to undergo respirator fit testing. Respirators that do not rely on tight seals around the face are not required to be tested. Tight-fitting respirators, like N95 masks, need either qualitative or quantitative fit testing.
Only the QLFT can be used to fit-test:
QLFT is a pass/fail test that depends on the user’s senses and employs one of four of the following test agents:
Any tight-fitting respirator may be fit-tested using a quantitative fit test (QNFT). It entails employing equipment to evaluate leaks around the face seal, which yields a numerical value known as a “fit factor.” OSHA fit test protocols for QNFT tests:
Respirator fit is critical since it affects numerous significant issues:
A proper fit implies that the respirator will fit nicely against your skin. Only when air goes through the filter can a respiratory function. Because the air will travel the route of least resistance, if the seal is missing, the air will move around rather than through the respirator, reducing the protection.
There is often competition between a respirator and safety glasses, hearing protection, face shields, hard hats, or coveralls on a person’s face, head, or body. To detect these issues before they occur on the job, OSHA mandates that any PPE that potentially interferes with the respirator’s seal be worn during the fit test.
The more tightly a respirator fits, the greater stability it will have on the wearer’s face. Fit testing measures the capacity of the respirator to maintain its seal when the worker is moving. Examinees are instructed to do a series of activities as part of the testing process. A respirator that moves while moving may be unable to maintain its seal.
The fit testing procedure consists of four steps:
Each user should be allowed to choose a respirator that fits their face comfortably. This implies that a variety of respirators must be available. At the very least, numerous sizes of one kind of respirator must be provided, but two or three distinct brands of respirators in several sizes are preferred.
Before judging if the respirator is comfortable, the employee should be taught how to put it on and adjust the straps properly. This includes placing the respirator on the chin and nose bridge. Users who use glasses should put them on to see if the respirator conflicts with their eyeglasses’ location.
After selecting a comfortable respirator, the individual should be instructed to do positive and negative fit checks.
This ensures that the respirator is sealed against the user’s face. In order to ensure that the respirator is working properly, you should do this every time you use it.
Positive pressure and negative pressure are the two forms of fit checks. The term “positive pressure” refers to the user exhaling and exerting positive pressure on the respirator. The term “negative pressure” refers to the user breathing in and putting harmful pressure on the respirator.
The user must appropriately put on the respirator to execute the fit test. First, the whole surface of the respirator must be thoroughly covered. This is because the entire surface works as a filter. Although some users can cover the surface using their hands, the simplest method is to cover the respirator with a plastic sheet, including household plastic film. It is easy to do in this manner.
Before the respirator may be used or fit tested, users must do both the positive and negative pressure fit checks.
Positive pressure fit check
After covering the surface of the respirator, the user should slowly breathe out and check to see whether air is leaving around the face instead of passing through the respirator. If you feel air flowing around the facepiece, adjust the respirator and re-fit it. The positive fit check is successful if the user does not feel the air leaving around the facepiece.
Negative pressure fit check
The respirator should be covered once again before performing the negative fit test. The user should breathe slowly. This should generate a vacuum, drawing the respirator closer to the face. If the respirator is not brought in toward the face, it should be discarded and inspected for flaws, such as a tiny hole or a deformed sealing edge. If none are identified, the respirator should be relocated, and negative pressure fit testing should be repeated. The user successfully passes the negative pressure fit check if the respirator pulls in toward the face as the user covers the surface and inhales.
This is possible when the user has completed positive and negative fit checks. Fit testing kits are available from various suppliers and include all the supplies needed to conduct taste threshold screening and fit testing. A dilute solution of the testing material is employed to assess if the user can detect the chemical that will be used for fit testing. To fit test N-95 respirators, two chemicals can be used:
Saccharine and Bitrex both need the use of a nebulizer that is included in the N95 fit testing kit. Fit testing kits also come with two bottles of solution and a hood and collar. The sensitivity test solution is in one bottle, while the fit test solution is in the other.
After a good taste threshold evaluation, fit testing can be done. For at least 15 minutes, the user should not have eaten, chewed gum, or had anything other than water to drink.
The fit test is valid for one year for the particular individual and respirator brand and model evaluated.
Users must shave their faces clean to be fit-tested and adequately use an N95 or other tight-fitting respirator. Facial hair is only permitted when respiratory protection is required, provided it does not breach the sealing surface of the tight-fitting respirator, according to Cal/OSHA standards.
Different companies charge various amounts for N95 fit testing. This number ranges from 30$ to 100$. To know more about our prices, please contact us at 800-674-9515.
Exercises are performed during a respirator fit test to stress the seal between the respirator and the face. Respirator fit testing must be done before using a mask on the job. In the absence of any significant changes to the user’s face, the fit test is valid for one year.
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Please contact us at 800-674-9515 with any questions or to schedule an appointment. You can also make an online appointment.