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  • Writer's pictureRebekah McCutcheon


Updated: Feb 29

Do you know what a Fit Test is?

It is commonly asked “what is a fit test” when individuals have never worn a respirator before or if it's the first time hearing that terminology.

A respirator fit test simply evaluates the compatibility of a respirator with an individual's face shape checking for appropriate size, ensuring that it forms an effective seal to prevent the ingress of harmful airborne contaminants. This assessment is vital to ascertain that the RPE worn by workers provides adequate protection during exposure to hazardous substances or environments. In short, if you do not breath effectively through the respirator filters, your respirator is not doing its job and you may still be exposed to the very risk that prompted the use of that respirator in the first place.

How Does Fit Testing Work?

Fit Test Australia - QNFT Fit Testing Specialists

Respirator fit testing works by calculating the minuscule particles in the surrounding atmosphere and subsequently assessing the infiltration of these particles into the respirator. This interrelation between the two concentrations is commonly referred to as the "fit factor."

The fit test procedure is conducted with the individual donning the respirator and connected to the testing equipment. They are then guided through a series of physical movements and maneuvers, strategically crafted to assess the resilience of the seal during motion to replicate its intended usage.

Upon achieving an effective seal and successfully passing the fit test, the respirator is deemed a suitable match for the wearer, ensuring optimal protection against potential airborne hazards.

Understanding Respirator Fit Testing

Fit testing is a crucial process in ensuring the efficacy of Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) for workers in various industries. By evaluating the adequacy of a respirator's fit on an individual, fit testing plays a pivotal role in safeguarding workers' health and well-being in hazardous environments. With the diverse methods available for fit testing, it is imperative to comprehend the nuances of each technique and their relevance within specific occupational settings.

Importance of Fit Testing to Ensure Health and Safety for Workers

Respirator fit testing significantly contributes to the prevention of occupational illnesses by confirming that the RPE functions as intended. By minimizing the risk of inhalation of hazardous particles, fit testing serves as a proactive measure in upholding occupational safety standards and preventing potential health hazards associated with airborne pollutants. Filtered air equates to healthy lungs, remember, every breath you take matters.

The Different Methods of Fit Tests

Quantitative Respirator Fit Testing (QNFT)

Fit Test Australia - What is a Fit Test?
Fit Test Australia - What is a Fit Test?

Condensation Nuclei Counter (CNC)

Quantitative fit testing (QNFT) involves the use of specialized equipment, using a PortaCount or AccuFit Pro to measure the concentration of particles inside and outside the respirator. By numerically assessing the fit, QNFT provides an objective evaluation of the seal's effectiveness, offering precise data to ensure optimal protection for workers. This method is particularly valuable in industries where precise measurements are critical for maintaining a safe work environment.

This method can fit test all types of respirators including disposable N95 and P2 respirators, elastomeric half-mask and full-face respirators, powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) and self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBA).

Controlled Negative Pressure (CNP) Respirator Fit Testing

Fit Test Australia - What is a Fit Test?

Controlled Negative Pressure (CNP) fit testing involves a controlled negative pressure generated inside the respirator to assess the seal's integrity. This method offers a comprehensive evaluation of the respirator's efficacy, particularly in challenging work environments with varying airborne contaminants. CNP testing provides valuable insights into the respirator's performance under realistic conditions, ensuring reliable protection for workers. This is still a Quantitative method.

This method of fit testing is designed to only fit test elastomeric respirators including half-mask and full-face respirators, powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) and self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBA).

Qualitative Respirator Fit Testing (QLFT)

Fit Test Australia - What is a Fit Test?

Qualitative fit testing (QLFT) uses a controlled hood which is placed over the subjects head, it relies on subjective assessments, primarily based on the individual's sensory perception of specific test agents, like irritant saccharin or Bitrex. This method, although less precise than QNFT, is cost-effective and widely used for respirator fit testing. It is essential to follow standardized protocols to ensure consistency in results.

This method of fit testing is limited to only disposable N95 and P2 respirators and elastomeric half-mask respirators only.

Adopting The Correct Fit Test Method

Understanding the limitations associated with each fit testing method is crucial for employers and organisations to make informed decisions about the most suitable approach for their specific work environments. By considering these limitations, employers can develop comprehensive strategies to address potential challenges and ensure the effectiveness and reliability of their chosen fit testing methodology.

SafeWork Australia’s emphasis on fit testing demonstrates a national commitment to safeguarding workers from respiratory hazards. These regulations not only ensure legal compliance but also serve as a cornerstone of comprehensive workplace health and safety strategies.

If you want to understand more about fit testing and the methods your workplace should adopt, contact us.

Worker health is your wealth.

Your health and safety is our priority

Call: 0403 064 064

FTA fit test Melbourne Victoria and Sydney NSW 

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