Respiratory Protective Devices

The use of a respirator requires a good seal between the respirator and the wearer’s face to allow maximum protection from airborne contaminants. Workers must pass a respirator fit-test before they first start wearing a tight-fitting respirator. Fit-testing measures the effectiveness of the seal between the respirator and the wearer’s face and is required for half-face disposable and reusable, full face reusable and tight-fitting powered air purifying respirators (PAPR). There are two methods of fit testing that meet the requirements of the Australian Standard AS/NZS1715:2009: Selection, use and maintenance of respiratory protective equipment:

Qualitative – this is a pass/fail test that relies on the wearer’s ability to taste or smell a test agent and can only be used on half-face respirators eg 3M Bitrex test

Quantitative – uses specialised equipment to measure how much air leaks into the respirator and can be used on half-face, full-face respirators and PAPR. This method is more objective as some workers may have difficulty with their ability to taste or smell.

Fit-testing should be carried out by a competent person before the first use of the respirator, if a different type of respirator is issued or if there is a change in the wearer’s facial characteristics, and repeated on a regular basis eg every 1-2 years. Note that facial hair along the seal of the respirator will stop it from sealing effectively so fit-testing the face should either be done when the wearer is clean-shaven or free of hair in areas where the respirator will seal.

For more information get in touch with your WHS Coordinator/BP:  https://safety.unsw.edu.au/contacts