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Respiratory Protection - What You Need To Know!

Respiratory Protection - What You Need To Know!

Are You Required To Wear A Respirator At Work?

Do You Know How To Comply With Regulations?

ABL Can Help!

Why Do I Need To Get Fit Tested?

In accordance with AS/NZS 1715:2009, fit testing is required before a user wears a respirator on the job to determine an appropriate match between the face-piece of the Respiratory Protective Equipment and face of the wearer.

This should be updated at least annually. In addition to this, fit tests need to be performed:
  • When the wearer changes the size or style of the respirator used
  • If there are any changes to the wearer's face such as facial hair, weight fluctuation or dental work

What Is Fit Testing?

A quantitative fit test (QNFT) can be used to fit-test any tight-fitting respirator. It involves using an instrument to measure leakage around the face seal and produces a numerical result called a “fit factor.”

A quantitative test relies on a machine that is attached to the respirator via a tube to complete the testing.

This test will not only detect the existence of leakage, it also measures the amount of leakage that is occurring.

Quantitative fit testing is normally the preferred option for full-face respirators and half face masks, however, any mask can be tested this way.

A fit factor of at least 100 is required for half-mask respirators and a minimum fit factor of 500 or 1000 for a full face-piece negative-pressure respirator depending on the protection factor required during use.

Once the quantitative fit test is successfully completed, the wearer is issued with a pass certificate report. This report can be emailed to the wearer and the company for which the wearer works if required.

What Should I Expect When Being Fit Tested?

Prior to starting the test, you will receive a brief of what is involved during the testing and why it is important to carry out.

We will ask you to present the respirator you will be using (alternatively we have a selection of respirators you can choose from / purchase on the day).

We will show you how to correctly apply the face mask, and then ask you to demonstrate this back to us.

Once the test begins you will carry out the following exercises:

  • Bending Over (60 seconds)
  • Jogging On The Spot (30 seconds)
  • Head Side To Side (30 seconds)
  • Head Up and Down (30 Seconds)
  • Standing Still (15 Seconds)

Why Did My Mask Fail A Fit Test?

There are many different reasons that a mask can fail a fit test, some are:
1. Age of the mask (masks will deteriorate over time)
2. Mask condition (the way it is being stored and maintained)
3. Strap tension (uneven strap or over tensioning can create slippage)
4. Facial features (such as bone structure and facial hair)

When Do I Need To Change The Filters On My Mask?

The Standard requires a filter replacement schedule to be in place for each task based on the manufacturers guidelines.

The times will be different for each product due to: the concentration levels, humidity, length of use and breathing rate.

What Guidelines Do I Need To Follow?

The AS/NZS 1715 Standards outline clearly the use, requirements, selection and maintenance of RPE in the workplace.

If you use Respiratory Protective Equipment in the workplace you will need to follow the below guidelines:

1. Appointing a programme administrator – S2: (2.2) 

  • It is mandatory to appoint a programme administrator.
  • The administrator is responsible for completing the requirements set out in the guidelines.

2. Selection of RPE – S2: (2.3)

RPE needs to be worn whenever the person is exposed to excessive levels of contaminant. Factors for selection include:
  • Contaminant
  • Task at hand
  • Operator
  • Equipment limitations
  • Special response HAZMAT incidents When selecting RPE it is important to ensure that only RPE complying to AS/NZS 1716:2012 is used.

3. Medical screening of end users – S2: (2.3)

All RPE users should have an initial medical assessment prior to use, including:
  • Physiological considerations:
    • Effort is required to breathe through some respirators, so people of cardiac or respiratory disorders should be assessed.
    • Other factors to consider include heavy work, prolonged use, and physical features such as facial hair (that could break the seal on a mask).
    • Enclosed RPE like hoods, helmets or full face masks may give rise to feelings of claustrophobia, isolation and anxiety in some people.

4. Training – S2: (2.4)

Training needs to be provided by a competent person, and should include:
  • Identification of the hazard/s
  • Reasons for the RPE
  • RPE selection
  • Use and proper fitting of RPE
  • Wear time
  • Limitations of RPE
  • Maintenance and storage
  • Summary of the respiratory protection programme in the workplace

 5. Issue of RPE – S2: (2.5)

  • Where practicable, RPE should be issued for a wearers exclusive use.
  • Records documenting the issue, provision of consumables and maintenance need to be established.
  • Filters need to be marked with the date of issue and users ID.
  • Non-personal RPE must be cleaned prior to reuse.

6 & 7. Fitting and testing of equipment – S2: (2.6 & 8.5)

 All RPE that requires a close fitting facepiece has to be properly fitted and sized to the wearer. Users require an annual fit test in accordance with the standards.
There are two types of facial fit test:
  • Qualitative: is subjective, as may be influenced by the wearer,
  • Quantitative: is not subjective, suited to all mask types, and requires a trained operator. Full face respirators have to be tested with this method to obtain the full protection factor

8. Wearing of RPE – S2: (2.7)

  •  The respiratory programme is there to ensure that RPE is worn correctly, fits correctly and is used when and where required.

9. Maintenance of RPE – S4: (2.8)

Maintenance of RPE needs to be carried out to the manufacturer’s instructions and should include:
  • Cleaning and disinfection
  • Inspection checking equipment is in working order
  • Repair and replacement of components (including filters)
  • Correct storage
  • Disposal of worn/expired masks and components

10. Record keeping – S4: (2.9)

Records for a respiratory programme should include details of:
  • Issue date of RPE,
  • User records: Training, fit test, medical screening
  • Filter replacement schedule,
  • RPE maintenance schedule
  • Programme records: Procedures, audits and evaluations, atmospheric monitoring records, health surveillance

How Do I Get A Fit Test Completed?

ABL Distribution completes both In-House and Off Site testing. You can read all about our fit testing services here.

Can I Do My Own Fit Test?

You sure can! You can complete your own fit testing onsite using our qualitative fit testing kits

What If I Don't Have A Respirator?

ABL Distribution sells an abundance of Respiratory Protective Equipment ranging from disposable masks, to re-usable respirators and through to powered air purifying respirators.
Our friendly staff are more than happy to assist you in choosing the best mask for your use.

Require further information regarding fit testing?

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