What is a fit test?
A “fit test” is used to determine if a respirator such as an N95 or KN95 mask is a good fit for the user’s face. It is performed on the person who is going to wear a respirator. Achieving a good fit is necessary for the respirator to work properly.
What is a good fit? A mask that forms a tight seal against the face of the wearer. Fit testers use specialized equipment to make this determination.
Fit testing is often required by occupational health and safety legislation as part of a sound overall respiratory protection program, which should also include a policy, procedures, and training.
1. Why is mask fit testing required?
Respirator-mask fit testing is required in quite a few different fields of work. The most common field that requires fit testing is the medical sector. The reason is, if there is ever an outbreak of any sort, nurses and doctors should be able to grab a mask and go to work. They are exposed to a wide variety of viruses and sicknesses where masks help to protect them against anything that may be airborne.
In other fields of work, usually something construction-related, mask fit tests are required to protect employees from dirt, dust, sand, toxic chemicals, etc. Employees could experience serious health issues if they are exposed to contamination and do not have a way to properly protect themselves.
2. What is an N95 mask?
An N95 mask is a disposable mask. So any type of mask that can be used for only one time is considered an N95 mask. This type of mask also must be NIOSH-approved and clearly classified by the Food and Drug Administration as a surgical mask.
3. What is the difference between qualitative fit testing and quantitative fit testing?
A qualitative fit test is the most common type of test and covers most of the regularly used workplace masks such as N95, half-face and full-face respirators. The test involves the taste sensitivity of the person being tested and can be applied to any type of mask that does not have its own separate air supply.
The quantitative fit test requires the use of a Portacount machine to measure the safety of the mask via the fixed air supply. It does not rely on the test sensitivity of a subject, but rather, it provides a fit-factor safety measurement.
Both types of tests must be conducted at least every two years and should be done sooner if the wearer has gained weight, lost weight or grown facial hair since their previous test. The tests can only be performed by a qualified instructor.
ISI performs both qualitative and quantitative Mask Fit Testing in accordance with OHS and CSA requirements.