OSHA Requirements for Fit Testing N95 Respirators

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The federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration enforces safety standards in the U.S. workplace. OSHA's mission is to ensure the health and safety of U.S. workers, including setting requirements for equipment used in the workplace. OSHA's requirements for fit testing the N95 disposable respirator are not specific to that product, but to all similar respirators. Without proper fitting, a disposable respirator does little good.

N95 Disposable Respirators

The N95 disposable respirator can filter out 95 percent of particles with a diameter between 0.1 and 0.3 microns. Among the most commonly used disposable respirators, the N95 is frequently found in health care and research settings, as well as veterinary and animal-care facilities. It doesn't filter out chemicals, lead, asbestos or silica, so those who work with these materials should not use the N95.

Fit Testing the Respirator

The person testing the respirator uses a mirror to observe the fit. When testing, she should wear the respirator for at least five minutes to assess comfort. The respirator should fit on the wearer's nose and face with enough room for her to easily see and speak. Fit testing includes checking for correct strap tension, slippage, proper chin placement and coverage from nose to chin. The person testing the respirator must complete five minutes of test exercises including deep breathing, head turning to each side and up and down, talking and bending over. The tester wears the typical clothing and equipment during the test that she would wear on the job.