How to Become a Certified Respirator Fit Tester| Air-Met Scientific
According to current standards, any person required to use a full respirator at their workplace must be fit tested by a qualified tester. Fit testing is important to assure the expected level of protection is provided to the employee by minimising the amount of contaminant leakage into the facemask.
RESP-FIT is a national respiratory protective equipment fit testing training and accreditation program developed to improve the competency of fit testers against both Australian and ISO respirator standards. As there is no clear guidance in Australia on what defines as a “good“ RPE fit test and many examples of poor fit testing practices and misinformation, the development of the RESP-FIT program plays an important role in improving fit testing practises in many workplaces that rely on respiratory protective equipment (RPE) as a safety control measure. The RESP-FIT Training and Accreditation Program aims to fill this gap in the guidance to provide the means for improving the quality of respirator fit testing in Australian workplaces.
While there are currently no legal fit tester accreditation requirements in Australia, there are many benefits of becoming an accredited fit tester through the RESP-FIT Program. Air-Met Scientific is a proud supporter of the RESP-FIT Training and Accreditation Program. Some of these benefits include:
Independent competence assessment against the nominated fit test methodology.
Enhanced standing as an accredited and competent fit tester
Enhanced standing for organisations employing accredited fit tester
Accredited Fit Testers and employers can display an RESP-FIT Program logo on their website, in their email signature and in hard copy publications
All accredited fit testers and their contact details (optional) are listed on the RESP-FIT website for public access.
Dr Stephanie Lynch and Luke Allen from OHD Global are RESP-FIT Accredited Fit Testers in Quantitative (QNFT) - Controlled Negative Pressure (CNP). We discuss with them the process of becoming a Respirator Fit Tester and the importance of standardising fit testing practices.
Stephanie - I have enjoyed seeing where the program places emphasis. We can all become complacent, and this was a good opportunity for me to challenge myself on my own fit testing practices. Being an assessor will take it one step farther, so I can really brush up on all the aspects of fit testing with CNP.
Luke - Respiratory protection and fit testing are key components to the health and safety of workers. The accreditation process not only provides confirmation of competency but allows operator training to ensure quality testing which ultimately protects those in respiratory protection.
Stephanie - Fit is the most important aspect of a respirator with regards to the protection it will provide, and millions of people are using respirators on the job to protect themselves. With this being such a vital aspect of their health protection, I think it is critical that those people performing fit testing show that they are competent and qualified. RESP-FIT has done this in such a thoughtful way, that I am confident it will have a direct impact on the quality of fit testing moving forward which will in turn ultimately lead to a better protected Australian workforce. OHD is proud to partner with and sponsor RESP-FIT.
Stephanie - OHD really wanted to play an active role in the development of the metrics for fit testers utilising CNP technology and the QuantiFit/QuantiFit2, so we jumped head first into support of this program. We were behind the scenes with the development of what was assessed in the respirator fit testing training and accreditation program, and which parts were critical to a successful fit test with CNP. Luke and I are accredited fit testers with the program as well as assessors for future CNP accredited fit testers. We believe in what RESP-FIT is doing and will continue our involvement.
Luke- The RESP-FIT program and its leadership have intentionally engaged industry and technology experts to form the curriculum of the program. OHD and its CNP technology experts have been involved with the development of the program in support of RESP-FIT leadership. It has been our pleasure to bring our fit testing expertise and CNP technology expertise to support this wonderful program.
An RESP-FIT approved training course provides the knowledge foundation and hands-on demonstration for fit-test operators. It is not mandatory for individuals seeking accreditation to have completed an approved RESP-FIT training course but is recommended. RESP-FIT have a number of approved training providers whose courses meet the RESP-FIT training syllabus learning course outcomes. You can find an RESP-FIT approved training provider here .
The accreditation is valid for three years. Within the last 6 months of this period, the individual must re-apply, pay fees, and complete Stage 1 and Stage 2 to extend accreditation for another 3 years (from the original 3-year expiry date).
Stephanie - There are critical differences in the assessment process that are technology-specific. While CNP uses air to challenge the respirator, CNC uses particles. This central difference creates variation in the way the fittest is performed including machine set up and location. Knowledge of these differences is part of the assessment process.
Luke - These assessments are very similar in structure and in overall fit testing requirements but specific to the technology being assessed. One of the benefits of the RESP-FIT program is the customised accreditation based on the technology pursued.
Stephanie - If applicants wish to be assessed for competency on CNP, they will need to demonstrate an understanding of the benefits and limitations of fit testing in general as well as all the relevant technology specific elements. Applicants film themselves going through all the things they would say and do during an actual CNP fit test, and the assessors have an outline that shows what they must cover to be deemed competent. Operators would need to explain how CNP works, and then walk through how they would perform an actual fit test. CNP has no requirements for environmental testing conditions, requires no probing of the respirator, and uses no consumables, but operators would need to show how to attach the fit testing adapters and prop open the inhalation valve when necessary. The test itself is 5 steps taking around 2 minutes, and the operator should communicate this as well as walk through these steps. The QuantiFit2 has a colour touch screen and animations that guide the user through the test, but an operator would still need to explain these to a user during assessment. CNP requires users to hold their breath during each test measurement while the instrument measures the exact amount of air that leaks into the respirator. The QuantiFit2 has an Auto Start feature that automatically initiates each step measurement upon the breath hold, but the legacy Quantifit has a trigger button to initiate the step. Operators would need to know this difference. I am sure this is not exhaustive as I am not referencing the RESP-FIT grading metric at the moment, but you get the idea. It’s a really cool program and is run in a way that ensures consistency on both the assessment side and the competency side.
Dr Stephanie Lynch Product Manager, OHD Global
Stephanie Lynch is a skilled researcher with a broad knowledge of respiratory protection and fit testing. With this specialised background Dr. Lynch focuses on refreshing and expanding research advancing OHD’s partnership with regulatory agencies supporting new product development initiatives and supporting OHD, its partners and customers with expertise in its varied product applications.
Luke Allen has an extensive experience and background in the health and safety industry. Luke currently holds the role of President at OHD and is also an equity partner in the company. After attending business School at Samford University, Luke joined OHD in a sales capacity and has been with the company for over 15 years. We have asked Dr Lynch and Mr Allen on some commonly asked questions on the fit testing and the benefits of becoming RESP-FIT accredited fit testers in Quantitative (QNFT) – Controlled Negative Pressure (CNP).