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Respirator Fit Testing

A respirator cannot protect your employees if it does not fit their face. Certain respirators, known as tight-fitting respirators, must form a tight seal with your face or neck to work properly. If a respirator doesn’t fit your face properly, contaminated air can leak into the respirator facepiece, and you could breathe in hazardous substances.

A respirator fit test determines if a tight-fitting respirator seals appropriately and does not leak. It should only take place after an employee has been medically cleared to wear a respirator and before the employee actually wears it on the job.

What to keep in mind when fit testing an employee:

  • Fit testing is required annually
  • A respirator fit test is required for all tight-fitting respirators.
  • An employee must complete the fit test using a respirator that is the same make, model, and size of one he/she will wear on the job while also wearing any other required equipment (e.g., glasses).

What are the OSHA Regulations?

OSHA 29 CFR 1910.134

Two types of Fit Testing

Qualitative Fit Test

What do you need to know?

  • Qualitative fit testing is a pass/fail test method that uses your sense of taste or smell, or your reaction to an irritant in order to detect leakage into the respirator facepiece.
  • Whether the respirator passes or fails the test is based on the employee detecting leakage of the test substance into their facepiece. There are four qualitative fit test methods accepted by OSHA:
    • Isoamyl acetate, which smells like bananas
    • Saccharin, which leaves a sweet taste in your mouth
    • Bitrex, which leaves a bitter taste in your mouth; and
    • Irritant smoke, which can cause coughing
  • Qualitative fit testing is normally used for half-mask respirators (those that just cover your mouth and nose).

Quantitative Fit Test

What do you need to know?

  • Quantitative fit testing uses a machine to measure the actual amount of leakage into the facepiece and does not rely upon the employee’s sense of taste, smell, or irritation in order to detect leakage.
  • The respirators used during this type of fit testing will have a probe attached to the facepiece that will be connected to the machine by a hose. There are three quantitative fit test methods accepted by OSHA:
    • Generated aerosol
    • Ambient aerosol
    • Controlled Negative Pressure
  • Quantitative fit testing can be used for any type of tight-fitting respirator.


The mobile medical unit is deployed for this service at a worksite.

Employees will be comfortably interviewed, screened and tested in the exam rooms within the mobile unit by a PLHCP, trained nurses, medical assistants, spirometry and hearing conservation technicians.

All testing that may be required is available within the mobile unit.

Employees and employers will receive a medical clearance determination or written medical opinion at the time of their physical.

Employees will be back to work within 1-1 ½ hours.

Develop a Medical Strategy

Our Occupational Medicine Team will develop a custom plan for your company. You may need a combination of services like physicals, COVID-19 testing, and drug testing, and you may also need these services performed on-site.

Contact our medical team to Develop your custom plan.


We offer OSHA required testing for companies that fall under these type of regulations, including hearing or audiometric testing, respirator physicals and many other OSHA required tests.


We offer many different COVID-19 related services, including pre-shift and pre-employment screenings, rapid antigen tests, PCR tests, and antibody testing. Our medical staff is among the most professional and knowledgeable in the industry.

Our on-site medical services are available in specific areas right now and is constantly expanding. Check with us to about availability of Mobile On-Site Services.