Qualitative vs. Quantitative Respirator Fit Testing

batrix saccharin fit testGoing to work every day should feel safe. Even if you’re working in labor intensive places like for a construction company, or dealing with harmful chemicals, putting yourself in harm’s way with no protection should never be a requirement of the gig.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is setup to ensure this is so. It has rules and regulations for how to protect workers, keep them safe at worksites, and what to do in case of an emergency.

Workplace Safety Testing

Many workplaces are required to undergo safety testing and training to ensure they are using the right equipment and that each person can lend a hand when needed.

In some industries, respiratory protection is required. This can include construction, protection for healthcare workers and even some surgical masks. Breathing in contaminants  from dust, chemicals and other airborne hazards can cause illness and possibly long-term respiratory damage.

Workplaces that require employees to use a tight fitting respirator on the job, are required to undergo stringent testing on the fit of those respirators per OSHA’s guidelines. This testing is done in two ways: qualitative and quantitative.

Qualitative Fit Testing

In this testing scenario workers are given a pass or fail as they react to different tastes and smells released into the air while wearing the respirator.

This will prove if there is any leakage in the respirator.  This testing is most commonly used to check for the fit of half face respirators and other facepiece-type of respirators. Saccharin, isoamyl acetate (banana oil), Bitrex and irritant smoke are all tested.

Quantitative Fit Testing

Quantitative testing relies on measurement from a machine on how much leakage is occurring with a face respirator. Using a probe connected to the machine, they are able to test if pressure or aerosols can make their way into the piece as well as any microscopic dust particles in the ambient air to see if they leak into the mask at all and if the filter functions to keep them out of the face mask.  This testing is used for all types of respirators that must be tight fitting.

At SoCal First Aid®, we provide Southern California businesses with everything from OSHA safety and training to respirator test fittings and full and half mask respirators. Keep your employees safe, visit Socalfirstaid.com today.

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