What is a Respirator Fit Test?

A respirator fit test is a medical employment screening mandated by OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard 29 CFR 1910.134. Although the employee is taking the test, the purpose is not to test the employee, it’s to test the respirator!

Figuring out how to be OSHA-compliant can be confusing ─ we’re here to help! Let’s get into the details of what a respirator fit test is and why it’s vital for respiratory protection.

Respirator Fit Test: What is Being Tested?

Though a respirator may feel like it fits well, a fit test guarantees it is the correct model and size to keep your workers protected from airborne hazards. In short, a successful fit test means the respirator is doing its job!

Employers will typically perform more than one fit test per person using different respirators. This is a great preventive measure when employees have to switch respirator makes, models, or sizes due to PPE shortages.

Mobile Health Qualitative Respirator Fit Testing

Mobile Health performs qualitative respirator fit testing, utilizing the wearer’s sense of taste to determine the respirator’s fit and seal. The fit tester uses a Bitrex solution, a chemical that leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, or a Saccharin solution, a chemical that leaves a sweet taste in your mouth.

The first part of a respirator fit test is a sensitivity test to determine a baseline amount of Bitrex or Saccharin needed for the employee to taste the solution. For the first part of the qualitative fit test, the employee will don the testing hood but will NOT don the respirator.

Once the baseline is determined, the employee will don the respirator and the testing hood for the qualitative fit test to be performed. The employee will perform different motions like turning their head side to side, talking, and normal breathing while the solutions are squeezed in the testing hood.

If the employee performs all of the motions and cannot taste the solutions, they pass their respirator fit test! If they do not pass, no need to worry. The next step is to perform fit testing again with a different size or model until the right fit and seal is found.

After a successful qualitative respirator fit test is complete, Mobile Health provides the employee with a clearance card specifying the respirator make and model for which they have been cleared and the dates their clearance is valid. This clearance card is a part of OSHA’s fit testing standard, requiring every employee to maintain their card on-person for proof.

Custom Respirator Fit Testing Solutions

Mobile Health is the only provider in the industry to offer customizable and flexible solutions across the country. We can send our on-site respirator fit testing teams to your location, you can schedule your employees at our 6,500+ fit testing clinics, or we can send you our self-administered FIT KIT™ and train you to perform fit testing in-house. Every solution can be paired with our online medical evaluations for instant respirator fit testing clearance.

Talk to an expert from our team and start creating your custom respirator fit testing program!