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Should we do our own respirator fit testing?

Updated: Feb 13

You may be using a respirator fit testing service currently to complete your annual respirator fit testing and may be wondering if you should do this in-house!


There are pros and cons for switching to an in-house fit testing service.


Pros:

  1. you can do individual onboarding employee fit tests quickly

  2. you have flexibility to fit test when it suits your team

  3. you can respond quickly to urgent fit tests due to changing needs on site

  4. it can be more cost effective in the long run

  5. you have the opportunity to engage with your team during the testing, gaining insights about the challenges of wearing personal protective equipment

  6. you can use the time to refresh team members on company policies relating to respirator use on site, e.g. facial hair policy and the reasons why

  7. you can check first hand if the respirators are being maintained and filters changed correctly and learn about any barriers relating to these elements.

Cons:

  1. fit testers must be taught by a competent person to a recognised fit testing standard e.g OSHA 1910.134. They need time to attend a course and time to practice and keep refreshed

  2. special test equipment is required (Qualitative or Quantitative) and needs cleaning and maintaining.

  3. Quantitative fit test equipment is expensive and needs annual calibration (in Australia currently)

  4. Comsumables are required for all fit test equipment which needs managing

  5. fit testers in in-house programmes often have other core roles so fit testing adds to workload

  6. fit testing is more than being a technician, respiratory protection knowledge is required and documentation must be kept on the process and outcome of tests.


In summary having in-house fit testers can work well for those companies that have managable numbers to fit test annually and have the resources and staffing to run it. We highly recommend having a talk with the fit testing training providers and/or other companies already fit testing to gain an understanding of what it involves and whether it is right for you and your business.


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