Respirator Fit Testing
Employees in many industries use respirators to prevent work-related illnesses such as silicosis, asbestosis and tuberculosis. The use of respirators is listed as the last means of exposure or infection control; however, it is often the primary or only means of protection available particularly in resource-constrained settings.
There is a knowledge gap where many respirator users are unsure of the limitations of respirators as well as the role that respirator size and type plays. The current perception in many workplaces in South Africa is that one size respirator size fits all employees.
There are few organisations in South Africa which implement a respiratory protective programme which includes education for employees on the correct type, size, respirator fit testing and limitation of respirators supplied to them. Most organisations are not aware of the benefit of conducting respirator fit testing.
To ensure that the respirator is effective at reducing risk, it is important to conduct respirator fit testing in order to match the people according to their facial characteristics with the correct size and style of the respirator. Respirator fit testing can be either qualitative or quantitative and it is an important element of a respiratory protection programme.