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Tight-fitting RPE is only effective if the respirator can make a tight seal around the wearer’s face, otherwise they could breathe in harmful particles that have leaked into the mask.

To ensure the mask can create a tight seal, the wearer must be properly fit tested using one of two methods, qualitative or quantitative. 

Qualitative fit testing is a pass/fail test that relies on the wearer’s response to a test agent such as Bitrex.

Quantitative fit testing measures the adequacy of a respirator’s fit by numerically measuring the amount of leakage into the respirator. This can be completed via the use of a PortaCount which works by measuring the concentration of microscopic dust particles in the ambient air and then measuring the concentration of those particles that leak into the respirator. 

Fit tests are mandatory under the Australian Standard, AS/NZS 1715:2009. Tests should be conducted for every type of tight-fitting RPE and again at appropriate intervals such as when there is a change in the wearer’s facial characteristics such as: dental work, excessive changes in weight or new scars around the wearer’s nose/mouth.

At Full Support we supply equipment, training and expertise for the quantitative method of fit testing.

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