Respirator fit testing is required by OSHA and other safety standards to ensure an adequate mask seal and acceptable Fit Factor. To help you better understand these requirements and to help ensure compliance and the safety of your personnel the following questions and answers are presented:

Q. What are the reasons for fit testing?

A. The two primary reasons for fit testing SCBA users are; 1) training verification, and 2) proper sizing of the facepiece.

Q. Can either Quantitative Fit Testing (QNFT) or Qualitative Fit Testing (QLFT) be used for all respirator fit testing?      

A. No, full-face negative-pressure respirators requiring a fit factor greater than 100 for Supplied Air Respirators (SAR) or SCBA used in negative Demand Mode only QNFT may be used.   Because QLFT is a subjective test and QNFT is a more precise objective test it is generally concluded that QNFT is the better, more preferred test.

Q. What frequency is required for fit testing?

A. Fit testing is required initially, prior to the respirator being used and once annually thereafter.  In addition, changes to facial physical features require re-evaluation.

Q. Does a "user seal check" qualify as a fit test?

A. No, a user seal check is a procedure the user performs each time they don the respirator and is done to ensure the mask is properly seated to the user's face. It is not a substitute for a fit test.

Q. When did OSHA require fit testing?

A. The Respiratory Protection Standard (1910.134) published on 1/8/98 revised previous fit test requirements and made the published methods mandatory.  The compliance date was January 1999.

Q. How many exercises are required during the OSHA QNFT method?

A. OSHA requires 8 exercises and each must be at least 60 seconds except the grimace exercise which must be at least 15 seconds.

Q. Do particulate filter respirators also need to be fit tested?

A. Yes, all tight-fitting respirators must be fit tested.  This includes filters with designations of N, R and P with efficiencies of 95, 99 and 100.

Q. What records must be maintained?

A. Fit test records must be maintained until the next fit test. Each test record must contain the user ID, type of fit test, date last tested, results of the test, and the make, model and size of the respirator tested. AQL provides these test records and a wallet card.

Q. Who can perform QNFT or QLFT for my department?

A. Contact AQL for all your respiratory protection safety requirements including compressed breathing air quality testing. All work is performed by a Certified Safety Professional (CSP).  AQL is your Safety Professional!  

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