Respirator Fit Testing Protects Workers from Airborne Hazards

house fire

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires companies to identify potential risks at each job site and to provide appropriate protective equipment. For fire and restoration workers, respirators are routinely required. Making sure these devices fit properly is essential to protect employees’ health. If a respirator doesn’t form a tight seal with a person’s face, the worker can inhale hazardous substances.

Why Respirators Are Important in Fire and Flood Restoration Work

Water that enters a building through a flood or that is used to put out a fire presents several potential hazards to restoration workers. Mold grows in moist conditions with minimal amounts of light. If mold spores are inhaled, they can cause infections, trigger allergic reactions, and irritate the eyes, nose, and skin. Water can also release asbestos in old buildings into the air, potentially causing long-term health problems for restoration workers. These risks are elevated in confined spaces with poor ventilation and high temperatures.

Importance of Respirator Fit Testing

Respirator fit testing can be performed by a current or former employer, union, or another professional body. It must be done using the same model and size of respirator that the worker will wear on the job. Fit testing should be conducted at least once a year. If a worker’s appearance changes significantly because of a large weight gain or loss, dental work, facial surgery, or scarring, the procedure will need to be repeated sooner.

In a fit test, the seal between the respirator’s facepiece and the person’s face is tested. A qualitative fit test is typically used for a half-mask respirator. In that test, if the person is able to smell or taste a substance that indicates that the seal is not tight enough to prevent leakage. Quantitative fit testing uses a machine to measure actual leakage rates.

If a worker will wear glasses, goggles, or other protective equipment while wearing a respirator on the job, those items must be worn during a fit test. If someone is unable to get a good fit with one type of respirator, the employer must provide a different model that fits correctly.

Schedule On-Site Respirator Fit Testing

Respond Systems offers on-site qualitative and quantitative respirator fit testing in Southern California. If your employees need to wear respirators on the job, make sure they fit properly so workers can stay safe in dangerous conditions and so your company complies with OSHA’s regulations. Contact Respond Systems today to schedule respirator fit testing.