Not only is fit testing required by OSHA, but — when done well — it provides assurance to workers that the employer is properly protecting their health in a potentially hazardous environment.
For example, the COVID pandemic created an unprecedented need for healthcare staff to wear respirators during patient care. Entering a room where you know a COVID patient is critically ill can cause even the most experienced employee to feel fearful and reluctant. When that same staff member is confident in their protective equipment, including their assigned respirator, the anxiety level drops.
Fit testing confirms that the chosen respirator is doing its job to protect the person wearing it against respiratory hazards. The most often-heard remark given to FACS fit testers after completing a test is that the employee feels much better about wearing a respirator. That’s because FACS does fit testing correctly and follows OSHA standards throughout the process.
Why Is Fit Testing Important?
There are times when workers must perform their duties in the presence of airborne hazards. Not only is respiratory protection a good idea, but at certain hazard levels, it is the law. Not complying with OSHA regulations can result in unnecessary exposure to airborne hazards, stiff fines, disgruntled employees, brand tarnishment, and even legal action.
Imagine the potential fallout that could occur should one of your staff members contract a serious disease because you failed to provide proper fit testing. The downside possibilities are too severe to even consider sidestepping the process or settling for a testing process that does not adhere to the OSHA standards.
Fit Testing Regulations
Fit testing is covered thoroughly in the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard 29 CFR 1910.134. In cases where it is not possible to engineer the environment to protect workers from respiratory health hazards, the employer must “provide the respirators which are applicable and suitable for the purpose intended.”
In addition, OSHA requires employers in workplaces where respirators are necessary — whether due to the level of airborne hazards or by company requirements — to “implement a written respiratory protection program with worksite-specific procedures.”
In other words, OSHA takes respiratory protection seriously, and you should too. The money saved by non-compliance is miniscule compared to the possibly horrendous results a company can suffer from failing to follow all regulations laid out by OSHA.
FACS Takes Fit Testing Seriously
Employees working in hazardous environments need to trust the personal protective equipment (PPE) they are using, and they need to believe the employer is taking every precaution to keep them safe. Fit testing is a big part of that formula when it is conducted prudently and professionally.
Never yield to the temptation to hire someone who rushes through the process, doesn’t follow all the OSHA guidelines, and leaves your employees still not sure the respiratory devices you provide are adequate. To do so is to leave workers open to physical harm and your facility open to severe repercussions.
If the fit tester you are considering cannot cite the OSHA regulation, suggests it is way too stringent, or tells you not to worry about it, you can be sure that hiring that person or company for fit testing is a bad idea.
FACS fit testing fulfills OSHA requirements completely, gives your employees confidence in the equipment, and provides you with complete documentation of the process used with each employee. Documentation is essential. It shows that you did everything you should’ve done to select the correct respirator for each worker tested and to train that employee on how to use the respirator correctly.
Here are the types of services related to fit testing FACS can provide:
- FACS can conduct OSHA-qualified fit testing for your employees at your place of business or in another location
- FACS can help you develop the required respiratory protection plan
- FACS communicates with your employees to make sure each feels confident with the recommended device
- FACS carefully documents the fit testing steps taken with each employee and provides you with the records
- FACS advises management on which models of respirators work best for your facility so you can get the respirators most suitable for your staff
- FACS provides data on the available models of respirators and how they compare in both price and effectiveness
- FACS can train select members of your staff on how to conduct fit testing in-house
- FACS can provide litigation support should you ever be faced with legal action concerning your respiratory protection program or your fit testing regimen
We are aware that it is possible to arrange low-cost, high-speed fit testing. That is not what we offer. Our pricing is certainly reasonable, but we aren’t attempting to compete on the basis of cost. And since we take fit testing seriously, we don’t rush through the process so we can move on to the next job. When we leave, your employees and management are confident in the chosen respiratory equipment and they know how to use it correctly.
Don’t skimp on fit testing. Make sure you hire a fit testing company that knows the law, follows the law, and helps your team build the confidence they need to work under hazardous environmental conditions. They are counting on you to protect them.
For more information or to schedule your fit testing now (it is required annually by law), call FACS at (888) 711-9998.