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Which fit testing method works best for all respirators?

Which fit testing method works best for all respirators?

Ensure effective testing during PPE shortages

According to Safety and Health Magazine, “lack of fit testing was cited among the 2,826 respiratory protection violations OSHA issued in fiscal year 2019,” with one of the main obstacles being uncertainty over which testing methods to use for different respirators. This is problematic, and extremely dangerous for workers that are potentially exposing themselves to contaminants in the air. (https://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/19441-respirator-fit-test-requirements)

OSHA requires that workers use respirators to protect themselves in high risk environments. Additionally, there are many regulations set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for guaranteeing that the respirator is used properly and effectively, including proper fit testing. There are many different respirators used by professionals every day, but the question remains: Which fit testing method works best for all respirators?

Respirators that are not properly fitted leave a user exposed to potential contaminants, which could include droplets containing the virus that causes COVID-19. According to the World Health Organization, as of August 20, 2020 there were nearly 22.5 million confirmed cases globally, with the United States leading in both confirmed cases and death count. (WHO, 2020) With these staggering statistics, it is more important than ever to keep our healthcare providers and front-line workers safe and healthy.

Which fit testing method works best for all respirators?How to safely test all respirators

Recent respirator shortages have forced employers to source respirators of different kinds, brands and quality. This could create a problem if an employer doesn’t have the proper equipment to test the varying types of respirators, however there are Fit Testers that can test all types. The PortaCount® Fit Testers 8038 and 8048 are the only quantitative fit test systems that can test all filtering facepiece respirators.

TSI’s N95 Companion™ technology enables the fit testing capabilities with <99% filter efficiency. Fit Testers without this technology cannot differentiate between particles from seal leakage versus respirator penetration. Those that do not, may present a fail test when a respirator should pass. The lack of consistency in accuracy can lead to many problems. It wastes time and money and frustrates the wearer and the test administrator. Uncertainty leads to distrust in the respirators and the process, and wastes valuable resources that are in shortage due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Additional resources

For more information on how technology enables respirator fit testers to test any equipment, visit: https://www.tsi.com/blog/tsi-blogs/occupational-health-safety-blog/may-2020/how-technology-enables-portacount-respirator-fit-testers-to-fit-test-any-respirator/

For more information on COVID-19 from the World Health Organization, visit: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

To read the article on Respirator Fit Test Requirements from Safety + Health Magazine, visit: https://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/19441-respirator-fit-test-requirements

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