Qualitative Respirator Fit Test (QLRFT): General Requirements

So you want to give your staff a Qualitative Respirator Fit Test, eh? Well, you’re probably going to have to know what that is before you come in for one.

Qualitative Respirator Fit Tests, or QLRFTs for short, test to make sure that an employee’s respirator fits properly.

Below, you can find out more information on QLRFTs, but if you’d like to get them done right away, Mobile health has the locations and knowledge to help you make that happen. Follow the link below to find out how to get your qualitative respirator fit test done at Mobile Health.

Free QLRFT Consultation 


Qualitative Respirator Fit Test General info:

As stated previously, the QLRFT process is a very important part of workplace safety and is designed to reduce an employee’s exposure to certain airborne hazards. As mandated by OSHA, the respirator fit test requirement is the responsibility of the employer.

The Qualitative Respiratory Fit Test needs to be performed as part of a pre-employment screening and on an annual basis for anyone with an occupational risk for exposure to workplace pathogens. In short, a respirator fit test is a process to find the right mask and fit adjustments for an employee exposed to workplace airborne hazards.

While there are 2 types of respirator fit tests, the qualitative respirator fit test is the faster option used for half mask respirators such as the N95’s that are common in the nursing, construction, and home care industries.

Employees who come to Mobile Health for their fit test are generally doing so because they’re following the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s (OSHA) regulatory guidelines for respirator fit testing. Mobile Health’s qualitative respirator fit tests satisfy OSHA standards.

Here’s what a qualitative respirator fit test looks like at Mobile Health:

Wearing Safety Equipment Before starting the fit test, make sure the test subject is wearing comfortable clothing and does not have any facial characteristics that would interfere with the testing process – beard or heavy sideburns that would affect a proper seal of the respirator.

Selection Process An approved N95 mask will be selected by the fit tester that best meets the contours of the examinees face and a demonstration is given to the test subject on how to put on a respirator, how to position it correctly on the face, how to properly set strap tension and placement to actuate a sufficient fit.

Determining Respirator Comfort In order to judge the comfort level of the respirator, the following steps should be regarded:

  • Position of the mask on the nose
  • Position of the mask on the cheeks & face
  • Room to speak
  • Room for eye protection

Determining Respirator Fit To determine the adequacy of the respirator fit, the following steps are helpful:

  • Fit the respirator across the bridge of the nose
  • Make sure the chin is properly placed
  • Ensure there is a proper span distance from the chin to the nose
  • Check to see if the straps are in the correct location.
  • Check to see if the strap tension is satisfactory (not too loose or too tight)
  • Check to see if the respirator has a habit of slipping
  • Evaluate the respirator fit & position in a mirror

User Seal Check In order to make sure the respirator is properly sealed for use, NEGATIVE & POSITIVE SEAL CHECKS ARE CONDUCTED.  Before this is done, the test subject shall be instructed to move his/her head up & down then side-to-side while taking a few slow deep breaths while the mask is seated on the face.  Another respirator will be selected & retested should the seal check tests fail. Note: the test shall not be conducted if any hair growth cross the sealing surface.  Examples include stubble, beards, moustaches, & sideburns.  In addition, any apparel that interrupts an acceptable fit will be removed or altered.

Pre-Exercise Regimen Procedure / Medical Screening Exam  All test subjects will receive a medical screening evaluation to ensure that they are physically able to wear a respirator and perform the work. In addition, should the test subject develop trouble breathing during the fitting process, it must be determined whether he/she can wear a respirator while performing duties.  The test subject may be referred to a physician or other licensed health care professional in order to properly assess this situation.

Exercise Regimen Description Before the fit test exercises proceed, the test subject is given a description of said test as well as their responsibilities during the procedure.  A description of the tests will be provided as well as what the test subject will be performing.  The respirator being tested must be worn at least five minutes prior before the start of the fit test exercises.

Exercise Regimen Test Aside from the respirator fit test exercises that employers are required to perform from the OSHA manual, the employer must also ensure the test subject can perform the following:

  • Regular Breathing – The test subject should be able to breathe regularly when in a normal standing position without talking.
  • Deep Breaths – The test subject shall breathe deeply & slowly while in a standing position. They should take caution not to hyperventilate.
  • Side-to-Side Head Turning – The test subject shall turn his/her head from side-to-side between severe positions on each side while standing in place. The test subject should be able to inhale while their head is held at each extreme position.
  • Up & Down Head Movement – The test subject shall slowly move his/her head up & down while standing in place. In the up position, the test subject should be asked to inhale.
  • Talking – The test conductor must ensure he/she can clearly hear the test subject speak out loudly & slowly. The test subject has the option counting backward from 100, recite a memorized poem/song, or read a prepared text such as the Rainbow Passage.
  • Bending Over – Bending at the waist, the test subject shall touch his/her toes. As some shroud-type QNFT or QLFT units no not permit bending over at the waist, jogging in place is an acceptable substitute.
  • Normal Breathing – The same exercise in exercise #1 needs to be repeated at the end.

Note #1: Each test exercise shall be completed for one minute (aside from the grimace exercise which is fifteen seconds long).  The test conductor must inquire if the test subject finds the respirator comfortable upon completion of the test exercises.  If the respirator is not comfortable, another model shall be tested.

Note #2: No adjustments can be made to the respirator once the fit test exercise commences.  Any adjustment will void the test resulting in its repeating.

If you have any questions about what a qualitative respirator fit test is, or to see how Mobile Health can help your organize an on-site qualitative respirator fit test, contact us now.

That’s all for now, stay healthy!

Upgrade Your
Occupational Health
For patients, schedule an appointment. For urgent appointments call 212-695-5122.