Respiratory Protection Frequently Asked Questions

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1)      How often do I need to be fit tested?

In order to ensure that employees can enjoy the continued protection offered by a properly fitting tight-fitting face piece respirator, employees need to be fit tested at given intervals and under specific circumstances.

  • Initial Testing: This test is designed to ensure that workers newly being assigned to respirators are wearing the appropriate size of respirator to ensure a proper seal.
  • Change in Respirator: This test is designed to make sure that employees have the appropriate seal on any new respirator they are assigned to.
  • Annual Testing: This test is intended to make sure that seals remain appropriate overtime. Changed in facial features, weight, and other characteristics can affect seal, so annual or periodic tests help monitor these changes.
  • Change in Condition: Additional fit test is needed whenever visual observations are made of, changes in the employee’s physical condition that could affect respirator fit. Such conditions include, but are not limited to, facial scarring, dental changes, cosmetic surgery, or an obvious change in body weight.
  • Inadequate Fit: If, after passing a fit test, the employee notifies the employer that the fit of the respirator is unacceptable, the employee shall be given a reasonable opportunity to select a different respirator facepiece and to be retested.

29 CFR 1910.134(f)(2)-(4)

2)     How often do I need to be medically evaluated?

The medical evaluation is designed to ensure that employees can handle the physical strain placed on their body. To make sure employees remain covered, they must be evaluated under the following circumstances:

  • Before initial fit test or respirator use
  • Whenever the employee reports medical signs or symptoms related to the ability to use a respirator
  • Whenever the company’s health care provider requires reevaluation
  • Whenever a change in the workplace might result in a major change in the physiological burden placed on the employee.

29 CFR 1910.134 (e)(1) & (7)(i)-(iv)

3)      Can I have facial hair when wearing a respirator or getting fit tested?

Facial hair in the areas of the face where the mask seals is strictly prohibited during the use or fit testing of any respirator. Typically mustaches are acceptable (unless the go low on the face into the area of mask seal).

29 CFR 1910.134 (g)(1)(i)(A)

4)      What kind of fit test do I need?

Qualitative fit tests (using irritant smoke) are only acceptable for negative pressure air-purifying respirators with a fit factor of 100 or less.

29 CFR 1910.134(f)(6)