Respirator Fit Testing

Respirators are a type of personal protective equipment (PPE), and as such, they are the last line of defence that should be considered in the workplace. It should first be considered if the hazard can be mitigated by elimination, substitution, engineering controls, or administrative controls.

Respirators are used to protect a person's respiratory system in a workplace where they may be exposed to a hazard. If a respirator does not fit correctly, it will not protect the person wearing it. As such, a Respirator Fit Test is required to determine which respirator model fits a given individual.

There are various types of professionals who may be required to wear a respirator, such as animal care workers and facilities maintenance staff. Styles of respirators that can be fit tested include N95, half-face, and full-face respirators. Please note that loose-fitting PAPR (Powered Air Purifying Respirators) do not require a fit test.

Preparation and Expectations

After an employee and supervisor establish that there is need to wear a respirator in the workplace, it will need to be determined what style of respirator will be required. Various resources are available online, or by contacting the EHS Office.

The day of the Respirator Fit Test, the employee must bring their DalCard, be clean shaven (or have facial hair that does not interfere with the seal of the respirator), and may not have anything to eat or smoke for a minimum of 30 minutes prior to their appointment time.

In order to ensure that the respirator fits the individual correctly, they will be asked to perform a few simple tasks. These tasks include breathing normally, deep breathing, turning head side to side, nodding head up and down, bending over, and reading out loud.

The correct donning and doffing of the respirator, and respirator care shall be discussed with the employee.

For information regarding respirator fit test appointments on the various Dalhousie University campuses, please log in to SharePoint.

Once the employee has successfully passed their test, both they and the tester will sign the report, and a copy of the report will be given to the employee to pass on to their supervisor.