What Is A Respirator Fit Test?
Some trades and professions require employees to wear an N95 Mask or a half/full-face respirator to keep them safe at work. This requirement stretched across many industries as the nation faced the COVID-19 pandemic.
OSHA and the DOT require that masks can keep out particulates that can harm an individual when inhaled. These particulates can include harmful fumes, smoke, insulation (fiberglass) particulates, viruses, and other substances. To keep workers safe, OSHA has provided set standards for masks. To know if a mask follows these standards, it can be measured using Qualitative Fit-testing (QLFT) and Quantitative fit-testing (QNFT).
Qualitative Respirator Fit Test (QLFT)
A qualitative respirator fit-test is a pass-or-fail test. It tells whether or not a mask has a complete seal by relying on senses like taste or smell. To qualify for the fit-test, the individual must pass a medical evaluation questionnaire (MEQ). Butterfield Testing Solutions offers an online MEQ that a doctor reviews. Once approved, our technician demonstrates the proper way to wear each type of mask.
After a proper fit has been established, the technician places a hooded mask over the person’s head (wearing the mask being tested under the hood) that rests on the shoulders.
The hood has a hole where the technician sprays a bitter-tasting solution while the person goes through a series of motions that test the fit of the mask.
The bitter-tasting solution is safe for humans as it was developed for the test. If and when the person can taste the bitter taste the mask fails the test. If no bitter taste is detected, the mask passes, and it is safe for usage on a worksite.
Quantitative Respirator Fit Test (QNFT)
A quantitative respirator fit-test is a similar test. Still, instead of relying on bitter-tasting chemicals or the individual’s sense of smell, the test is performed using a special machine that calculates any leakage measurements. Because the mask has a tube from the testing device, the machine can detect a leak. The machine takes the person through a series of motions and exercises to analyze the amount of any leakage.
The technician is trained to know when to stop the test and refit the mask. Accordingly, the technician is trained to know if a different size mask would work better. Once a successful test is run, the machine provides a passing record, and a card is issued. This test also requires an approved Medical Evaluation Questionnaire (MEQ) before the fit-test can begin.
How long does it take to do a respirator fit test?
About 10 Min.
How long does it take to get results for a respirator fit test?
Results are immediate and a certification card showing the approved mask is issued.
Things To Know About Respirator Fit Testing
Facial hair can affect the test results. Consequently, subjects with a large beard may have issues working with N-95 masks. Regardless of how tight the mask is, the fit factor may not be accurate. In some cases conducting a respirator fit test requires the subject to shave their facial hair. This is so that there can be a complete seal for the mask.
What Happens If An Individual Fails The Medical Evaluation Questionnaire?
Oftentimes, an answer to a question on the MEQ requires a phone interview by the doctor. Most of the time the person is still cleared to be tested. However, there are times when clearance is not possible. As a result, that person would not be considered a good candidate to work wearing a respirator mask.
Learn more about other testing services we offer here.