What is Fit Testing?

There are many essential components to a company’s health and safety program. Emergency procedures, personal protective equipment requirements, formal and informal hazard assessments and many more make the entire process seem overwhelmingly. In fact, most employers hire safety representatives and personnel just to ensure there is a person reviewing and revising the program regularly. Mask fit testing is just one component of a complete approach to employer and employee safety. 

The masks that require fit testing are a part of a company’s respiratory equipment policy. If workers are exposed to dangerous gases or airborne materials, this policy becomes a legislative requirement by the provincial Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) Code. 

So, how does mask fit testing work?

How Mask Fit Testing Works

Qualitative vs Quantitative

It is important to note that there are two different fit tests: Qualitative and Quantitative.

A quantitative test measures the amount of leakage from a respirator by using a quantifit machine. This state-of-the-art equipment allows the control of negative pressure inside the mask. Further, to keep the pressure constant it must pull out any additional air leaking into the respirator. The measurement indicates how much air leaks into the respirator, and this is converted into a fit factor.

On the other side, a qualitative test is meant to determine a general “pass-fail” scenario. Usually, these tests rely on an individual’s ability to smell or taste a sprayable solution. If they detect the odour or taste, they have not achieved a secure fit.

Why Is Mask Fit Testing Important?

Getting both tests conducted is necessary for the safety of employees, as is selecting the right type of respirator for the hazards at the workplace. Particulate size, supplied air and volatility are all important variables that must be considered during the equipment selection process. For the best results, consultation with exposed employees is strongly recommended. 

Furthermore, Worksafe Alberta determines that employers must adhere to the Alberta OH&S Guidelines for fit testing if employees are working in areas where they are exposed to airborne hazards. Employers must conduct mask fit testing when: 

  • The employee is first issued a respirator and then at least every two years after
  • The respirator mask changes
  • The conditions at the workplace change
  • The worker has suffered facial features that might change the tightness of the respirator

Ensuring the safety of workers is a cooperative responsibility of everyone present on the worksite, and understanding the legislative requirements of employers, employees and subcontractors is essential in reducing workplace injuries and fatalities. Make sure you are doing your part with the help of Rocky Mountain Mobile Hearing Testing.

Rocky Mountain Mobile Hearing Testing is your locally owned and operated Calgary business. We are committed to providing mobile hearing testing services and other safety tests, to numerous industries and companies in Western Canada. Our services are part of the WorkSafeBC Provider Network, while our sound booths are approved by the CSA. We offer audiometry testing, mask fit testing, custom earplugs, noise measurements, help with implementing a hearing conservation program, and spirometry testing. If you want to improve your workplace, leave it in the hands of our team. Contact us today on (403) 399-4775.    

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