N95 Mask Fit Test for Healthcare Workers

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N95 Mask Fit Test For Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities

Respirator or Mask Fit Tests are a federal requirement by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for any employee who will be expected to wear a tight-fitting respirator.

The fit testing must be done annually, or sooner, in the event of any changes to your physical condition such as surgeries to your face, scars in the area of the seal, significant dental work, or significant weight gain or weight loss. These conditions may seem small enough that they couldn't drastically change your physical condition, and yet even the slightest raised surface of a scar could alter the seal of your mask and cause a leak.

What Does the Mask Fit Test Do?

The test verifies your ability to have a proper fit for masks or respirators such as:

  • 3M N95 1860
  • 3M N95 1870
  • Kimberly Clark Duckbill

Before the Fit Test

You will first have a medical evaluation to assess your ability to wear a respirator. In order to do the test, there can be nothing that may compromise the seal of the respirator to your skin. This means the area should be free of:

  • Hair (beards or mustaches can cause problems, and hair should be pulled away from face and secured)
  • Jewelry
  • Clothing

If you wear prescription glasses, you will need to wear them for the test.

What to Expect

The qualitative testing applies a pass/fail grade to the seal of your respirator, it does not measure leakage. This type of testing only identifies whether or not there is in fact leakage. A full-strength solution is put to the facepiece of your respirator. There are four types of solutions that are approved for the administration of this test. They are:

  • Isoamyl acetate - banana smell
  • Saccharin - sweet taste
  • Bitrex - bitter taste
  • Irritant smoke - cough

There will be no surprise or sneakiness involved with the administration of the test. You will be told what is happening and when it is happening.

How Long Will a Fit Test Take?

Fit tests are pretty short, in general taking only 15 to 20 minutes.

Will I Have to do a Fit Test For Each Facility?

According to the OSHA, an employer can accept fit testing received from another party, but they do not have to. This is called "fit testing portability". If the facility accepts fit testing portability, certain requirements must be met:

  • The fit test must be from within the last 12 months.
  • The same respirator/mask make, model, size, and style must be available.

How Much Does a Fit Test Cost?

If you still have questions or are uncertain of what to expect for your first fit testing, this link from the OSHA website will show you an official video of the process. There is also a video available in Spanish. If you have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask us. Also see our compliance page for more information.

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