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The Importance of Training for Respiratory Fit Testing

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Respirator Fit Test Training Course helps determine whether the respiratory protective equipment used in your workplace properly fits your employees’ faces, allowing them to breathe freely while wearing it without risk of suffocation or contamination from outside substances. However, many people don’t know that respiratory fit testing also requires proper training. This makes sense when you consider that respirators are designed to provide an additional layer of protection against toxic fumes, infectious particles, or other potentially hazardous materials. If your employees are not properly trained in how to use their respirators, they can expose themselves to these dangerous substances without realizing it until it’s too late.

Methods of Respiratory Fit Testing

Qualitative Testing: A qualitative fit test requires that a worker wear a mask that contains chemicals such as amyl acetate or isoamyl acetate (banana oil) to test if they can smell and taste them. If workers can, they may not be able to detect chemical vapours at safe exposure levels; on the other hand, if they cannot smell or taste them (even though levels are too high), there is a chance that an over-exposure might occur.

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Quantitative Testing: A quantitative fit test (QNFT) uses a complex series of machines to evaluate how well your facepiece fits. A trained professional will conduct a QNFT by donning and doffing several different facepieces on your face while measuring how easily you can breathe at various airflow rates. When performing QNFTs, companies must use respirators with cartridges containing eight grams per cubic meter of particulate filters. There are two primary types of qualitative fit tests (LFTs): visual inspection and challenge testing.

Why Respiratory Fit Testing Is Important

Validation of fit test methodology against independent competency assessment: To provide a final and independent check of fit test competence, an annual competence assessment against nominated fit test methodologies is required to be undertaken. There is no prescribed format for such evaluations; however, all such assessments should be documented in the workers’ record and reported to senior management (where appropriate). Ideally, such assessments would include trainee involvement with assessment results fed back appropriately. This will help ensure that all staff are adequately prepared for their role in undertaking respiratory fit testing. Staff must be encouraged to reflect on their practice regularly throughout the year as part of their learning/training process. For example, specific review questions could be included in regular training materials or entered onto annual competence assessment forms under ‘objective type’ evaluation criteria.

Accreditation and competency as a fit tester: Most employers now include professional development as a part of their health and safety responsibilities. Therefore, it is important to note that an enhanced standing as an accredited and competent fit tester can provide valuable skills to your employer and promote longevity within your profession, thus reinforcing your credibility to your employer (or future employer). Accreditation gives you valuable skills and confidence and provides evidence for both potential employees at the interview stage, improving chances by far for those who take it upon themselves to reach such heights in their field.

Enhancing the standing of organizations that hire accredited fit testers: To provide fit testing, and certified fit tester must undergo improved standing. This is a process to ensure that testers are maintaining their abilities in conducting respirator fit tests. All qualified fit testers must undergo enhanced standing once every 12 months by an occupational physician or registered practitioner (RSP). Enhanced standing requirements are published an Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) HSC (2013) 1 issued by HSE. A fit tester who has not undergone enhanced standing will be unable to undertake any respiratory fit tests until they have done so.