Respirator Fit Test: Basic Information

What Is a Respirator Fit Test?

In this post you’ll find a little about what a Respirator Fit Test (RFT) is and who needs one. We’ll also look at what’s different between a Qualitative and Quantitative Respirator Fit Test.

This is handy for those who work in industries that deal with strict rules from the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Simply put, a Respirator Fit Test is a test that will show if a tight-fitting respirator can be worn by a person without having any leaks. The test must be done using the exact same respirator that a worker will wear on the job. If the worker expects to wear glasses or other protection while wearing the respirator, they must also wear them during the test.

If you need to know more about how to get a Respirator Fit Test done in New York and beyond, contact Mobile Health. Mobile Health gives Qualitative RFT’s at many of our nationwide locations.


RFT for my employees


Which Employees Need a Respirator Fit Test?

If your workers are going to be  in places with certain atmospheric dangers, you are probably obligated by OSHA to make your workers wear a respirator during work.

There are many types of respirators, but generally, respirators are either loose-fitting or tight-fitting. Because tight-fitting respirators can’t protect you unless they fit, they’re held to tougher standards.

If your workers need to wear a tight-fitting respirator while they work,  OSHA rules require that the exact make, model, style, and size respirator be fit tested before they wear a respirator and at least every year after that.

Qualitative V.S. Quantitative Respirator Fit Test

Here are the differences between the two types of RFT.

  • Pass/Fail Test
  • Uses sense of taste/smell or reaction to irritant to detect leaks
  • Does not measure amount of air leaking into face piece
  • Test subject detects leakage of test substance.
  • Mostly for half-mask respirators like N95 face masks
  • 4 methods accepted by OSHA:
    • Isoamyl Acetate- smells like bananas
    • Saccharin- tastes sweet
    • Bitrex- tastes bitter
    • Irritant Smoke- causes coughing
  • Uses a machine to measure actual amount of leakage into face piece
  • No taste or smell test used to detect leakage.
  • Can be used for any tight fitting respirator
  • Mostly used for full face respirators
  • 3 methods accepted by OSHA
    • Generated Aerosol
    • Ambient Aerosol
    • Controlled Negative Pressure

When to take Respirator Fit tests

RFT’s must be taken before a worker wears a mask for the first time. The worker must also take the RFT every year after that. RFT’s must also be taken if there are changes to a person’s face that could change the fit of the respirator. These changes can include things like:

  •  weight change that changes their face
  •  dental work
  •  face surgery
  •  face scarring

We hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any more questions or would like to get a free quote, feel free to contact us.

  • Sara Stein
    Written by:
    Sara Stein