New NIOSH Study Supports the OSHA Annual Fit Testing Requirements for Filtering Facepiece Respirators

Results of a recently completed NIOSH study confirm the necessity of the current Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) respirator fit testing requirement, both annually and when physical changes have occurred. The study's conclusions emphasize that respirator users who have lost more than 20 pounds should be re-tested to be sure that the current size and model of respirator in use still properly fits. For over three years, NIOSH researchers followed a cohort of 229 subjects measuring N95 filtering facepiece respirator (FFR) fit and physical characteristics (e.g., face size, weight) every six months.  Prior to this study, very little research existed looking at the relationship between respirator fit over an extensive period of time and the change in facial dimensions, as could be caused by weight gain or loss. OSHA requires FFR users to undergo an annual fit test, which is vital to ensuring continued proper respirator fit. In addition to annual fit testing, OSHA requires that fit testing be repeated “whenever an employee reports, or the employer or the physician or other licensed health care professional makes visual observations of changes in the employee's physical condition that could affect respirator fit (e.g. facial scarring, dental changes, cosmetic surgery, or an obvious change in body weight.” (OSHA, 1998)

Source: http://blogs.cdc.gov/niosh-science-blog/2016/01/05/fit-testing/

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