Services / Lung Health Testing Services

Respirator Fit Testing

Mask Fit Testing safeguards employee lung health by ensuring workers are wearing properly sized and sealed respiratory protective equipment, that no leaks are occurring, and that particulates are being sufficiently filtered.

Different Test Types

QUANTITATIVE

Quantitative Mask Fit Testing is considered the "gold standard". Using a Portacount machine, SureHire measures the amount of leakage into the respirator. The measurement is taken while the worker performs dynamic movements and breathing exercises resembling those experienced on the job site.

Quantitative Mask Fit Testing offers several advantages:

  • It eliminates reliance on the participant’s subjectivity and sensitivity to qualitative testing agents;
  • Results are immediate and can be delivered and maintained electronically; and
  • Almost all respirators can be analyzed, including tight fitting half- and full-face masks as well as SCBAs (Self-Contained Breathing Apparatuses).

SureHire's testing software complies with most regulatory standards, including those from the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).

QUALITATIVE

Qualitative Mask Fit Testing relies on the worker's sensory response to determine if there is a leak in the respirator seal. While wearing the respirator, the worker will be exposed to one or more testing agents, which may include irritant smoke, bitrex, or isoamyl acetate (banana oil). Results are based on whether or not the employee reacts to the substance, such as coughing or by detecting a taste or smell.

Understanding the Results

Results for both methods of Mask Fit Testing offered by SureHire are conveyed as a pass/fail. Quantitative results will include a numerical value or "fit factor". Qualitative results are based on whether or not a worker reacts to the testing agent(s). If no agent is detected during the fit test, the result is considered a pass.

Certified Technicians

SureHire performs both qualitative and quantitative Mask Fit Testing in accordance with OHS and CSA requirements.

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) requires Mask Fit Testing to be completed at least once every two years, however, provincial requirements can differ. Employers should check with their provincial regulatory organization to ensure they are in compliance.

SureHire recommends annual Mask Fit Testing, completed in conjunction with spirometry testing and chest x-rays, to protect worker lung health through medical monitoring and early intervention.

Legal Implications

Employers are responsible for ensuring employees have the appropriate fitting Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the work environment and thus may be found liable if an employee is injured on the job. Properly fitting Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) helps prevent the development of respiratory illnesses and inhaling substances which could affect workers' airways and, in turn, could reduce the quality and length of their lives.

Since the CSA requires Mask Fit Testing to be completed at least once every two years, failure to comply can result in legal action.

Booking

Appointments can be booked by phone or online at one of our many mobile or fixed locations across Canada.

Turnaround

The results of Mask Fit Testing are available immediately as a pass/fail. Quantitative results will include a numerical value, or "fit factor", and can be delivered electronically to assist with record keeping.

FAQs

What is a fitness-to-wear questionnaire?

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) recommends that individuals complete a Fitness-to-Wear Respirator Questionnaire prior to a Mask Fit Test to ensure that they are medically safe to wear a respirator and participate in the testing protocol.

The purpose is to prevent a worker from suffering a negative medical effect from wearing a mask when they should not be wearing one due to a medical condition.

Specific answers on the questionnaire trigger a doctor’s review. The worker can either take the referral to their own doctor or have the information sent electronically to an independent physician for review and clearance.

Once the worker has been cleared by the questionnaire and/or a physician, the worker is able to participate in the Mask Fit Testing protocol.

Who Would Be Considered an Exposed Worker?

Any worker that is potentially exposed to a known substance for 30 days in one calendar year is considered an exposed worker.

The main benefit of wearing a mask is that it helps prevent you from damaging your lungs or getting sick. Specifically, it helps prevent the development of illnesses or inhaling substances which could affect your airways and, in turn, could reduce the quality and length of your life.

What to Expect

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) recommends that individuals complete a fitness-to-wear respirator questionnaire prior to a respirator fit test to ensure that you are medically safe to wear a respirator and participate in Mask Fit Testing. The purpose of the questionnaire is to prevent any negative medical effects from wearing a respirator due to a medical condition. Depending on the results of the questionnaire, a doctor’s review may be required. You can either take the referral to your own doctor or have the information sent electronically to an independent physician for review and clearance.

Once you have been cleared by the questionnaire and/or a physician, you will be able to participate in the Mask Fit Test.

If your employer has opted for Quantitative Mask Fit Testing, SureHire will use a Portacount machine to measure the amount of leakage into your respirator. You will be required to perform some dynamic movements and breathing exercises to replicate the conditions you would normally experience on the job site.

If your employer has ordered Qualitative Mask Fit Testing, your fit will be checked by exposing you to one or more testing agents, which may include irritant smoke, bitrex, or isoamyl acetate (banana oil), while you are wearing your mask. Results are based on whether or not you react to the substance, such as by detecting a taste or smell. If there is no reaction to the testing agent, your mask fit will pass the test. Please be sure to let SureHire know if you have any allergies before the test begins.

It is preferred that you come to your appointment clean shaven and makeup-free to ensure your fit test can be completed without delay, however, razors and shaving cream are available at the testing facility if required. Note that if you do cut your skin while shaving at the facility, the test will need to be re-scheduled. Be sure to review the Guidelines for Proper Facial Hair prior to your appointment.

Know Your Rights

Many dangerous substances exist as invisible gases, fumes, fine dust or vapors. It is important that you are wearing a mask that fits properly and will provide adequate protection for your lungs. Since it is the duty of your employer to help protect your health and to inform you of the hazards you may be exposed to at work, the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) also mandates that Mask Fit Testing be conducted at least once every two years.

The CSA also recommends that you complete a questionnaire prior to participating in Mask Fit Testing to ensure that it is medically safe for you to be tested and to check for allergies to any substances that may be used during the test. Depending on the results of the questionnaire, a doctor’s review may be required. You can either take the referral to your own doctor or have the information electronically sent to an independent physician for review and clearance. Once you have received clearance by the questionnaire and/or a physician, you will be able to participate in the Mask Fit Testing.

FAQ

What is a Fitness-to-Wear Questionnaire?

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) recommends that individuals complete a fitness-to-wear respirator questionnaire prior to a mask-fit test to ensure that they are medically safe to wear a respirator and participate in the mask-fit testing protocol.

The purpose is to prevent a worker from suffering a negative medical effect from wearing a mask when they should not be wearing one due to a medical condition.

Specific answers on the questionnaire trigger a doctor’s review and the worker can either take the referral to their own doctor or have the information electronically sent to an independent physician for review and clearance.

Once the worker is cleared by the questionnaire and/or a physician, the worker is able to participate in the mask-fit testing protocol.

When do I need a fit test?

Each brand, model, and size of respirator will fit slightly differently, so workers should participate in a fit test every time a new type of respirator is worn. Fit testing should also be completed if the worker changes employers to ensure that the new employer has a proper record of the fit test.

Also, if weight fluctuates or facial or dental alterations occur, a fit test should be completed again to ensure the respirator is still effective.

As per CSA, fit testing should be completed at least every two years.  However, this requirement may vary province to province, so be sure to check your provincial OHS legislation. 

Will it impact my ability to be employed with this company if the mask doesn't fit?

Your employer is responsible for ensuring you have the appropriate fitting PPE for your work environment. If the respirator they have selected does not fit you, speak with your company about alternative mask options that can be made available for you at your job site.

SureHire will coordinate with your company to confirm that we have their alternative option available for fit testing.

Can I shave at the facility?

Razors and shaving cream are available at the testing facility.  However, due to tight scheduling, the facility may not be able to accommodate the time needed for you to shave and your fit test may need to be rescheduled as a result. It is preferred that you come to your appointment clean shaven and makeup-free to ensure your fit test can be completed without delay.  Below are the guidelines for appropriate facial hair.

Guidelines for Proper Facial Hair

Is the irritant smoke bad for me?

The smoke is not harmful when an individual is exposed to minimal amounts for a short period of time.

How often are the respirators cleaned?

All respirators are disinfected and sanitized after each fit test using an approved respirator wipe. You are welcome to ask to clean the respirator yourself and you will be provided with as many wipes as you like.  As per manufacturer and CSA standard, all respirators are disassembled, cleaned, and sanitized at the end of each day.

Once I am fit tested, can I use any brand/make/model respirator as long as it is the same size?

No. A fit test only qualifies you for the specific brand/make/model/size of respirator with which an acceptable fit testing result was achieved.

You should wear only respirators of the same brand, model, and size that you wore during successful fit tests. [Note: respirator sizing is not standardized across models or brands. For example, a medium in one model may not offer the same fit as a different manufacturer’s medium model.]

Who would be considered an exposed worker?

Any worker that is potentially exposed to a known substance for 30 days in one calendar year is considered an exposed worker.

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