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§1910.134—Fit Testing Procedures (Mandatory)
A mask that doesn't fit your face properly CANNOT protect you. It's that simple!
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If your respirator doesn't fit your face properly, contaminated air can leak into your respirator face-piece, and you could breathe in hazardous substances. So before you wear a tight-fitting respirator at work, your employer must be sure that your respirator fits you. Your employer does this by performing a fit test on you while you wear the same make, model, and size of respirator that you will be using on the job. That way, you know that your respirator fits you properly and can protect you, as long as you use it correctly.
In addition, before you use a respirator or are fit-tested, your employer must ensure that you are medically able to wear it.
So what is a fit test? A “fit test” tests the seal between the respirator's face-piece and your face. It takes about fifteen to twenty minutes to complete and is performed at least annually. After passing a fit test with a respirator, you must use the exact same make, model, style, and size respirator on the job.
A fit test should not be confused with a user seal check. A user seal check is a quick check performed by the wearer each time the respirator is put on. It determines if the respirator is properly seated to the face or needs to be readjusted.
There are two types of fit tests: qualitative and quantitative.
Qualitative fit testing is a pass/fail test method that uses your sense of taste or smell, or your reaction to an irritant in order to detect leakage into the respirator face-piece. Qualitative fit testing does not measure the actual amount of leakage. Whether the respirator passes or fails the test is based simply on you detecting leakage of the test substance into your face-piece. There are four qualitative fit test methods accepted by OSHA:
Qualitative fit testing is normally used for half-mask respirators - those that just cover your mouth and nose. Half-mask respirators can be filtering face-piece respirators - often called "N95s" - as well as elastomeric respirators.
The BitrexTM (Denatonium benzoate) solution aerosol QLFT protocol uses the published saccharin test protocol because that protocol is widely accepted. Bitrex is routinely used as a taste aversion agent in household liquids which children should not be drinking and is endorsed by the American Medical Association, the National Safety Council, and the American Association of Poison Control Centers. The entire screening and testing procedure shall be explained to the test subject prior to the conduct of the screening test.