OSHA Approves 2 Additional Respirator Fit Test Protocols

Posted on 10/21/2019 by Roger Marks

Last month, OSHA approved two additional respirator fit testing protocols for inclusion in its Respiratory Protection Standard at 29 CFR 1910.134, Appendix A.

The Final Rule appeared in the Federal Register on September 26, 2019. The rule does not require employers to change or update their current fit test methods.

The two new quantitative fit test methods approved by OSHA are:
  • The modified ambient aerosol condensation nuclei counter (CNC) quantitative fit testing protocol for full-facepiece and half-mask elastomeric respirators; and
  • The modified ambient aerosol CNC quantitative fit testing protocol for filtering facepiece respirators.

Quantitative vs. Qualitative Respirator Fit Tests

OSHA requires that employees using tight-fitting facepiece respirators pass one of the two types of respirator fit tests—quantitative (QNFT) and qualitative (QLFT).

The two new fit test standards OSHA added in this Final Rule are quantitative protocols, which test the respirator’s fit by measuring the amount of leakage using machinery.

A qualitative fit test, on the other hand, uses the employee’s sense of smell or taste to detect leakage of a test substance. The employee dons the respirator and is asked to detect one of four approved test substances: isoamyl acetate (which smells like bananas); saccharin (which tastes sweet); denatonium benzoate, i.e., Bitrex (which tastes bitter); and irritant smoke (which causes coughing). 

Why are Respirator Fit Tests Important?

Tight-fitting respirators will not protect an employee unless they fit properly.

Employees must be fit tested before using a respirator for the first time, and fit testing must be repeated annually. The employer must ensure that the employee is fit tested with the same make, model, style, and size of respirator that will be used. 

If the employee will wear glasses, safety goggles, or other equipment while using the respirator, that same equipment must be worn during the fit test. If changes in the employee’s physical condition could impact respirator effectiveness, additional fit testing must be done. Examples include obvious changes in body weight, facial scarring, dental changes, and cosmetic surgery.

Respirator Training Under 29 CFR 1910.134

In addition to the medical evaluation and fit testing required for all employees who wear respirators, OSHA mandates annual training for employees that covers proper respirator inspection, usage, fit, maintenance, and storage; the limitations of respirators; how to use a respirator in an emergency; and other topics outlined in 29 CFR 1910.134(k).

Respiratory Protection online training is now available in English and Spanish at The online course prepares employees to select, use, and maintain respirators in the workplace.

Violations of OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard ranked #5 on OSHA’s most recent list of Top 10 most-cited workplace safety standards.

Tags: fit test, osha, respirator, respirator fit test, respiratory protection, respiratory safety, safety, safety protocols, safety training, worker safety

Find a Post

Compliance Archives

Lion - Quotes

Lion is easily and consistently the best option for compliance training. I've learned new information from every instructor I've had.

Rachel Mathis

EHS Specialist

Convenient; I can train when I want, where I want.

Barry Cook

Hazmat Shipping Professional

The workshop covered a lot of information without being too overwhelming. Lion is much better, more comprehensive than other training providers.

George Alva

Manufacturing Manager

If I need thorough training or updating, I always use Lion. Lion is always the best in both instruction and materials.

Bryce Parker

EHS Manager

I like the consistency of Lion workshops. The materials are well put together and instructors are top notch!

Kevin Pylka

Permitting, Compliance & Environmental Manager

I can take what I learned in this workshop and apply it to everyday work and relate it to my activities.

Shane Hersh

Materials Handler

Very well structured, comprehensive, and comparable to live training seminars I've participated in previously. I will recommend the online course to other colleagues with training requirement needs.

Neil Luciano

EHS Manager

The instructor did an excellent job presenting a very dry subject; keeping everyone interested and making it enjoyable.

Marc Bugg

Hazardous Waste Professional

More thorough than a class I attended last year through another company.

Troy Yonkers

HSES Representative

Energetic/enthusiastic! Made training enjoyable, understandable and fun!

Amanda Walsh

Hazardous Waste Professional

Download Our Latest Whitepaper

Use this guide to spot which tanks and substances are regulated under EPA's Underground Storage Tank program, and which are excluded as of October 2018.

Latest Whitepaper

By submitting your phone number, you agree to receive recurring marketing and training text messages. Consent to receive text messages is not required for any purchases. Text STOP at any time to cancel. Message and data rates may apply. View our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.