If your employees wear air-purifying respirators, make sure that you follow one of the approved OSHA fit-testing protocols. Check out 29 CFR 1910.134 Appendix A. In this appendix, the general requirements indicate that employees shall wear the respirator for at least 5 minutes prior to fit-testing, and each step of the eight-step protocol is for 1 minute. This means that the minimum amount of time that it will take to perform a respirator fit-test on a specific individual is 13 minutes.
Respirator fit-testing – don’t take shortcuts
Having performed environmental, health and safety audits for many years, I’ve observed cases where EH&S personnel would take short cuts in performing respirator fit-testing. In one case, a single employee would indicate that they fit-tested over 70 employees in a single day (theoretically impossible if you follow the OSHA respiratory protection standard fit-testing protocol).
A couple of other notes regarding respirator fit-testing:
- The medical evaluation requirements contained in 29 CFR 1910.134(e) must be satisfied prior to performing respirator fit-testing.
- Employees must be given a sufficient number of choices in respirator models and sizes. Note – sufficient number isn’t defined in 29 CFR 1910.134
- Employees must receive a review of how to don/doff the respirator prior to being fit-tested. This is only a review, and not a substitute for formal respirator training.
Environmental, health and safety personnel should always remember, that when you’re fit-testing employees, you are ensuring that they will be protected under actual work conditions – don’t take short cuts.
If you have any questions regarding respiratory protection programs or environmental, health and safety auditing, please contact the experts at Affygility Solutions. In addition, Affygility Solutions offers its simple and affordable compliance management software – Affytrac. Affytrac makes it easy to comply with complex environmental, health and safety regulations. We specialize in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and medical device industry, and have assisted companies throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.