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OSHA Fit Testing Procedures: General Requirements for Test Exercises

Fit TestingAs part of a company's respiratory protection program, for an individual to be able to use a respirator, they must be initially fit tested and annually thereafter to assure the respirator mask provides a tight fitting seal. To make sure your organization is performing respirator fit tests appropriately, we've compiled several OSHA requirements from Appendix A to 1910.134: Fit Testing Procedures (Mandatory). Keep reading to see the general requirements for test exercises as described by OSHA

General Requirements for Test Exercises

Employers must perform the following respirator fit test exercises for all OSHA fit testing methods prescribed in Appendix A, except for the CNP quantitative fit testing protocol and the CNP REDON quantitative OSHA fit testing protocol. For these two protocols, employers must ensure that the test subjects (i.e., employees) perform the exercise procedure specified in Part I.C.4(b) of Appendix A for the CNP quantitative fit testing protocol, or the exercise procedure described in Part I.C.5(b) of Appendix A for the CNP REDON quantitative fit testing protocol. For the remaining OSHA fit testing methods, employers must ensure that employees perform the test exercises in the appropriate test environment in the following manner:

  1. Normal breathing. In a normal standing position, without talking, the subject shall breathe normally.
  2. Deep breathing. In a normal standing position, the subject shall breathe slowly and deeply, taking caution so as not to hyperventilate.
  3. Turning head side to side. Standing in place, the subject shall slowly turn his/her head from side to side between the extreme positions on each side. The head shall be held at each extreme momentarily so the subject can inhale at each side.
  4. Moving head up and down. Standing in place, the subject shall slowly move his/her head up and down. The subject shall be instructed to inhale in the up position (i.e., when looking toward the ceiling).
  5. Talking. The subject shall talk out loud slowly and loud enough so as to be heard clearly by the test conductor. The subject can read from a prepared text such as the Rainbow Passage, count backward from 100, or recite a memorized poem or song.
    1. The Rainbow Passage: When the sunlight strikes raindrops in the air, they act like a prism and form a rainbow. The rainbow is a division of white light into many beautiful colors. These take the shape of a long round arch, with its path high above, and its two ends apparently beyond the horizon. There is, according to legend, a boiling pot of gold at one end. People look, but no one ever finds it. When a man looks for something beyond reach, his friends say he is looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. 
  6. Grimace. The test subject shall grimace by smiling or frowning. (This applies only to quantitative fit testing; it is nor performed for qualitative fit testing.)
  7. Bending over. The test subject shall bend at the waste as if he/she were to touch his/her toes. Jogging in place shall be substituted for this exercise in those test environments such as shroud type quantitative fit testing or qualitative respirator fit test units that do not permit bending over at the waist.
  8. Normal breathing. Same as exercise 1.

Each test exercise shall be performed for one minute except for the grimace exercise which shall be performed for 15 seconds. The test subject shall be questioned by the test conductor regarding the comfort of the respirator upon completion of the protocol. If it has become unacceptable, another model of respirator shall be tried. The respirator shall not be adjusted once the respirator fit test exercises begin. Any adjustment voids the test, and the fit test must be repeated.

To learn more about requirements for fit tests, including specific quantitative fit testing and qualitative fit testing protocols, please check out the rest of Appendix A to 1910.134: Fit Testing Procedures (Mandatory). If you need additional help or questions, please leave a comment below or click here to contact our team of experts!

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