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OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard (29CFR 1910.134)

Respiratory Protection Adviser


Respirator Fit Testing

Prior to providing employees with respirators,  The respirator must be selected according to the Respirator Selection Procedure 29 CFR 1910.134(d)(1)(i) - (d)(3)(iv)


Fit testing must be performed any time a respirator is issued to a worker, when a different make or model of respirator is used, whenever something that could affect the fit of a respirator such as change in the employee's facial characteristic (changes due to weight gain or loss..) and on an annual basis.

Fit testing will be done after the employee's medical evaluation, if one is required. The employee must provide the original copy of the Medical Certification to the tester before a fit test is done.

Workers with facial hair will not be issued respirators requiring a fit test because the tester cannot assure that the respirator will properly fit and continue to form a seal under conditions of use. There are Two types of fit tests, Qualitative and Quantitative.  Qualitative fit testing will be performed either by DEHS staff, or any other designated individuals.  Quantitative fit testing must be performed by a trained DEHS staff only.

Qualitative Testing

For first time respirator users proceed as follow:
  1. The employee must be allowed to select their own respirator in order to get a good and comfortable fit.
  2. Assist the employee select the respirator he/she wants from available models and sizes.
  3. Let the employee place different masks of different sizes to their face in order to find a mask that has a good fit.
  4. Assist the employee to: properly put on respirator, proper position the respirator, check strap tension, and determine if there is an acceptable fit.
  5. Have the employee put on the chosen mask and wear for 5 minutes and assess his /her comfort taking into consideration:
  • Respirator position on the nose
  • Room for eye protection (use a pair of goggles when necessary)
  • Enough room to talk.
  • Position on face and cheeks
  1. Have the employee determine adequacy of respirator fit by checking
  • Chin placement
  • Strap tension
  • Fit across Nose
  • Size of mask - goes from nose to chin
  • Look in mirror for self-observation
  1. Have the employee move head up and down and side to side while taking slow deep breaths in order to properly seat the mask on face.
  2. Have Employee conducts the following user seal check.
A. Positive pressure check
  • Close off the exhalation valve
  • Exhale gently into face-piece.
B. Negative pressure check
  • Close off inlet opening of canister or cartridge by covering with palm of hand, or by replacing the filter seals
  • Inhale gently until face-piece collapses slightly

Using a solution of the Bitrex Test Agent

[Test agents may include Banana oil (isoamyl acetate), Saccharin, or Bitrex]

A. Taste threshold screening (Performed without wearing a respirator)
  1. Have employee put test hood on
  2. Have employee breathe through mouth with tongue extended
  3. Spray threshold check solution into the hood - ten rapid squeezes, fully pressing on bulb and letting it completely expand
  4. If employee tastes the Bitrex, record number of squeezes (ten no matter how many actually squeezed)
  5. If employee does not taste Bitrex, add ten more squeezes of Bitrex.
  6. If employee now tastes the Bitrex, record number of squeezes (twenty no matter how many actually squeezed)
  7. Continue until you reach 30 squeezes, if the employee cannot taste the Bitrex, they have no sensitivity to it, and therefore cannot be fit tested with it, dismiss employee until can fit test with different solution (call environmental Health and Safety Office 726-6764)
  8. When the employee taste the bitrex, have him/her remember the taste for reference during the next fit test step
B. Aerosol fit test procedure (with respirator on)
  1. Ensure the employee has not eaten, drank, chewed gum, or smoked for at least 15 minutes before the test.
  2. Have the employee put on respirator and hood
  3. Have the employee breathe through mouth with tongue extended
  4. Ask the employee to notify you if the taste of Bitrex is detected
  5. Squeeze Bitrex into hood using same number of squeezes necessary during taste threshold screening
  6. Have the employee perform the following exercises:
  • Normal breathing - 1 minute
  • Deep breathing - 1 minute (slow deep breaths in order not to hyperventilate)
  • Turn head from side to side - inhale at each side - 1 minute
  • Move head up an down - inhale in the up position - 1 minute
  • Talk - Read prepared text, count backward from 100 or recite a memorized song
  • Bend over - at waist, pretend touching toes, or jogging in place - 1 minute
  • Normal breathing - 1 minute
  1. If the employee does not detect the taste of Bitrex, the test is passed.
  2. If the taste of Bitrex is detected, the test has failed and the employee must start over (threshold screening and fit testing) and with a new respirator if necessary.

    Fit Test documentation form

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