The Respirator Fit Test: What it Involves?

The Australian Standard 1715 requires employees working within environments with harmful gases, dust, and fumes to wear respirators. The equipment protects wearers against toxic work atmospheres while allowing them to breathe with a significant reduction of exposure to respiration toxins. However, before your employees use the respirator, a respirator fit testing Gold Coast examination is a must.

With increased regulatory requirements, the number of employees wearing respirators is getting bigger. Respirator fit testing and medical evaluations by an occupational physician Perth professional determine if an employee is medically fit to wear a respirator while working.

The importance of respirator exams

Respirator medical examinations ensure that employees exposed to toxins are protected throughout. Results from the evaluation can also help you, the employer, make an informed decision on the employees that require respirators.

An occupational physician Perth consultant can disqualify an employee from wearing a respirator because of some medical conditions. Further, the exam also helps determine if wearing the respirator interferes or limits:

  • Vision
  • Use of required equipment
  • Breathing
  • Communication

Key components to the fit of a respirator

The respiratory fit test also ensures that the respirator fits each employee optimally for the highest level of protection. Critical components that affect how a respirator fits are:

  • The seal—A critical factor that provides protection between an employee’s face and the respirator. That said, the seal on the respirator should fit tightly against the skin. An ill-fitting seal makes it easy for contaminated air to sneak in and bypass the filter. For this reason, evaluators advise employees to be clean-shaven or only maintain facial hair that does not interfere with the seal.
  • Compatibility—Respirators should work or fit in with other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) your employee wears. Such equipment includes safety glasses, a hard hat, and a face shield. The respirator must fit snuggly together with other PPEs.
  • Stability—Fitting a respirator properly ensures that it remains stable even as the wearer moves around. To confirm this, the respirator fit testing Gold Coast evaluation may require the user carrying out various exercises.

When is the test performed?

All employees should have the fit test done before they wear a respirator for the first time. Make this a requirement in your workplace to ensure that anyone working with hazardous substances has a tight-fitting respirator.

The fit test should also be done when you want to provide your employees with a new make or model of a respirator. Plus, the test is critical in case of drastic changes to an employee’s facial features or characteristics—such as due to weight gain or loss—that may affect the facial seal. Also, consider carrying out the test for your employees annually.

The most common fit testing method carried out by an occupational physician Perth expert is the Quantitative test. This involves measuring the leakage around the seal in a numerical value. The number shows whether a respirator fits the employee adequately.

Where to find out more

Resile is a renowned respirator fit testing Gold Coast provider that can help ensure that you comply with Australian regulations and help keep your employees healthy and safe on the job. They can carry out fit testing at the site or at their clinics, contact them on 1300 737 453 for more.


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