Respirator Fit Testing FAQs

  • What is an N95 respirator?

    When is wearing an N95 respirator necessary?

    Why do I have to wear a half-face or full-face respirator?

    What is qualitative N95 mask fit testing?

    How do I prepare for my mask fit testing?

    What happens if I have a beard?

    Can I participate in a fit test if I am pregnant or think I may be pregnant?

    What happens if I can’t do qualitative mask fit testing?

    Are there any side effects of the solution used in qualitative fit testing?

    What happens if I can’t taste the solution during qualitative fit testing?

    I am allergic to latex, can I proceed with the fit test?

    What happens if they don’t have the same masks or respirators available where I am working?

    Are there other types of respirators out there?

    Do you fit test for other types of respirators?

    How long can you wear a N95 disposable mask for?

    How do I dispose of my N95 respirator?

     



    What is an N95 respirator?

    This is a device that has met legislative requirements and standards to protect the wearer from specific hazards (airborne) in the workplace. It is approved by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in the U.S. The “N” stands for not resistant to oil and the “95” stands for the filter’s efficiency when correctly worn.  These types of respirators are disposable and come in various sizes and shapes.


    When is wearing an N95 respirator necessary?

    You must wear a N95 respirator in situations where airborne transmission of infectious agents/particles is possible. Each workplace will establish when use of N95 respirators is required. Refer to your workplace’s policies for more details.


    Why do I have to wear a half-face or full-face respirator?

    Your employer has determined as part of their health and safety assessments that you must wear a respirator. Based on the types of contaminants or pathogens and specific concentrations that you might be exposed, your employer will suggest either a half-face or full-face respirator. Employees are required to be fit tested as per cccupational health and safety laws in your province.


    What is qualitative N95 mask fit testing?

    This is the most common form of fit testing, and it measures your ability to wear an N95 respirator. N95 respirators come in all different sizes and shapes, and fit testing helps determines the best mask for your face. We provide detailed education and instruction along with a laminated certificate card for your records upon successful completion.


    How do I prepare for my mask fit testing?

    There are some simple things we require:

    1. Complete and bring your health assessment form on the day of your test
    2. Do not eat, drink, smoke or chew gum at least 20 minutes prior to your mask fit test
    3. You must be clean shaven. SSM reserves the right to refuse to fit test anyone that is not clean shaven or has any facial hair.
    4. Women must not wear makeup
    5. If you are or think you may be pregnant, please consult with your healthcare practitioner prior to conducting mask fit testing
    6. Please arrive on time
    7. Please bring your own water

     


    What happens if I have a beard?

    If you cannot shave, SSM cannot perform a mask fit test.

    Unfortunately, according to the CSA Standard Z94 4-11, you must be clean shaven to participate in mask fit testing. SSM reserves the right to refuse to fit test anyone that is not clean shaven or has any facial hair.


    Can I participate in a fit test if I am pregnant or think I may be pregnant?

    We recommend you seek your doctor’s approval and we require their permission to proceed with the test.


    What happens if I can’t do qualitative mask fit testing?

    There are some instances where qualitative respirator mask fit testing cannot be conducted. In this case you may consider a quantitative mask fit test. SSM does not provide quantitative fit testing at this time.


    Are there any side effects of the solution used in qualitative fit testing?

    No, the solutions are made by 3M and are totally safe to ingest. We currently fit test with Bitrex solution. Read the safety data sheet on Bitrex.


    What happens if I can’t taste the solution during qualitative fit testing?

    We recommend you conduct a quantitative respirator mask fit test. SSM does not offer this type of testing at this time.


    I am allergic to latex, can I proceed with the fit test?

    Yes, we do not use any latex products in our fit testing.


    What happens if they don’t have the same masks or respirators available where I am working?

    We are teaching you the correct techniques to establish the best possible facial seal with a particular respirator mask. For you to be safe, you should speak with your employer to ensure they carry the respirator you have been fit tested for.


    Are there other types of respirators out there?

    Yes, there are hundreds of types of respirators, and each one is specifically designed for the particular work environment and its associated risks. Your employer should set the minimum requirements for the type of respirator you need.


    Do you fit test for other types of respirators?

    Yes, we conduct qualitative mask fit testing for disposal and reusable half-face or full-face respirators. If you require fit testing for anything other than N95 respirators, you must bring your own respirator and filter cartridges at the time of your appointment. Please email for more information on how to schedule an appointment.


    How long can you wear a N95 disposable mask for?

    It is recommended that respirators be changed if they become wet, interfere with breathing, come in contact with respiratory droplets or are damaged or visibly soiled. Your employer may have guidelines suggesting usage times and change schedules.


    How do I dispose of my N95 respirator
    1. Use proper hand hygiene prior to handling the respirator
    2. Carefully remove the straps of the respirator without touching the front
    3. Use hand hygiene after handling the respirator

     

     

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