the importance of respirator fit testers when using respiratory protective equipment
The Importance of Respirator Fit Testers When Using Respiratory Protective Equipment
Respiratory protective equipment such as N95, P100 and N99, FFP1, FFP2, FFP3, full and half-face elastomerics will only provide their full protection if they are fitted to the face correctly. The only way you can be fully confident that they are providing the most effective protection is by performing a quantitative fit test.
A respirator fit tester is a piece of equipment which uses an ambient particle counting technique to provide a quantitative assessment of face seal leakage from respiratory protection equipment.
The most accurate technology used is Condensation Particulate Counter (CPC) which optimises counting efficiency. In the CPC method, ambient ultra-fine particles are used as the challenge agent.
A respirator fit tester measures the ambient particle concentration when several exercises designed to stress the respirator/face seal are performed. The ratio of the challenge agent concentration inside the mask is measured. This ratio is the Fit Factor.
Another way of ensuring that there are enough particles to get an accurate reading is by using a particle generator. A particle generator supplements the naturally occurring particles in a room environment.
The test measures the effectiveness of the seal against the face, if the seal is not doing its job correctly then contaminated air will leak through and bypass the filter.
A respirator fit tester will assess the effectiveness of the:
Seal- is the respiratory protective equipment tight fitting against the face?
Compatibility- does the face mask interfere with any other PPE equipment?
Stability- does the respiratory protective equipment remain stable while the user performs a variety of movements including moving their head from side to side, bending over and talking?
Why is a respirator fit tester important?
Completing a face fit test with a respirator tester is the most accurate way of knowing whether protective respiratory equipment is performing effectively. Using a quantitative respirator fit tester machine provides numerical data and takes out the guesswork associated with some other qualitative methods available.
Conducting a face fit test is recommend annually if the same equipment is being used. A person’s face can change within that time whether that’s weight gain or loss, increased or reduced facial hair, these different elements can affect the facial seal of respiratory masks. However, a respirator fit tester should also be used when a new make or model of respirator is introduced to employees.
Increased demand for protective face masks during the Covid-19 pandemic, specifically in the healthcare sector, has highlighted the importance of properly fitted respiratory protection helping to reduce the hazard of exposure to the virus.
Take a look at our respirator fit tester solution, the AcuuFIT9000 and AccuFIT9000 PRO which can test all face masks including N95, P100 and N99, FFP1, FFP2, FFP3, full and half-face elastomerics. The AccuFIT9000 PRO is the latest technology in face fit tester equipment.