It's nearly time for annual respirator fit testing, and you are working hard to prep your employees. In the process, you ask yourself how you can best ensure your employees' success. Here are some practical tips for prepping for respirator fit testing day, to ensure a smooth and successful event.  

Medical clearance

To stay compliant with federal regulations, all employees wearing respirators, including dust masks, must be medically evaluated and cleared. If the medical examination is incomplete, an employee will be unable to perform his or her duties with a respirator until he or she has been cleared. Fortunately, there are now online for quick and convenient medical evaluation and respirator clearance

Facial hair

Proper grooming is the key to success on fit testing day. For a snug, comfortable fit with a protective seal, workers must ensure their whiskers are well trimmed or clean-shaven. 

While many men prefer beards, facial hair must remain precisely in the confines of a respirator or be shaven off, as trimmed and bushy scruff remains unacceptable for respirator use. Rogue facial hairs cause an ill-fitting seal, allowing dusty air particles, gases or other unwanted materials to enter an employee's mouth and nose.  

Examinetics' occupational health specialists frequently encounter male workers in need of a shave. Untidy beards are especially relevant in the colder months when grown out for warmth. In turn, this delays the testing process, as workers then must take the time to shave before testing. 

Examinetics's nursing staff recommends all employers utilize charts from OSHA depicting the types of acceptable and unacceptable facial for respirator-wearers. As an OSHA regulation, appropriate shaving is necessary for employees. 

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It's important to note, that all facial hair must be an acceptable length at all times on the job, not just for testing day. 

Check out Standard 1910.134(g)( 1)(i)(A) for clarifying information. 

Eye irritation

Often, workers struggle to wear both their glasses and a respirator. In particular, this affects workers requiring a full-face respirator or SCBA. However, OSHA requires employers to provide who wear respirators with an optical corrective lens when necessary. While many employees are unaware of this option, it is readily available for those in need. 

Hearing aids

In the experience of the Examinetics nursing staff, we've seen many workers in need of hearing aids who do not wear them while wearing SCBA. While the hearing aids fit with the mask, frequently they aren't worn. This is often found with firefighters and fire companies. 

Workers take out their hearing aids during the job, a detrimental blow to their health, which ultimately hinders their ability to perform on the job. To hearing troubled workers required to wear SCBA, the Examinetics nursing staff strongly suggests wearing hearing aids. 

Examinetics' respiratory services

As a part of a comprehensive respiratory protection program, Examinetics offers respirator fit testing and online respirator clearance evaluations. Contact us today to learn more about our respiratory services to stay compliant and healthy. 

 

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This is business-to-business information intended for EHS (environmental health and safety) professionals and not intended for the final consumer. Companies should check the local regulatory status of any claim according to their individual needs, requirements and intended use.