The Importance of N95 Respirator Fit Test During COVID-19 Pandemic

The Importance of N95 Respirator Fit Test During COVID-19 Pandemic

What provides the best protection against COVID-19? Experts state wearing masks, washing hands, and keeping distance. But what mask provides maximum protection. They have revealed the N95 mask is the best one. A few occupations had to wear N96 masks before the Coronavirus pandemic. The test to make sure the mask was working properly was N95 Respirator Fit Testing.

Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has become worse, the N95 Respirator Fit Testing has become more important. People are searching for a safe center to conduct the test.

In this blog, we will cover what you need to know about the N95 Respirator Fit Testing in Las Vegas.

Wearing masks in 2020

A few careers are dealing with hazardous fumes and gases. The workers have to wear a mask or respirator to prevent damage to the breathing system. Respirators filter the fumes and harmful gases.

As the COVID-19 pandemic became worse across the globe, wearing masks became a hot topic. At first, the experts declared that only the infected people should wear a mask. Later they announced; wearing masks, keeping social distance, and washing hands is the best way to protect yourself.

As wearing masks increased, what is the best mask against COVID-19 came.

 

N95 masks and the COVID-19 pandemic

The US is preparing to lift restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. By the WHO advice, wearing masks, keeping social distance, and practicing self-hygiene is the best way to protect yourself. We can make sure of washing hands and keeping a safe distance from others. But how do we know the mask is providing protection?

 

N95 Masks

the respirator will remove 95 percent of all particles

The expert revealed that N95 and surgical-grade masks provide the best protection. The ‘N’ means not oil resistant, and ’95’ stands for removing 95% of all particles.

N95 masks provide the best protection for doctors and health care providers. It meets the OSHA’s standards requirements. It is made of special polymer fibers, which makes it special.

However, they have some limitations:

  • Expensive, not anyone can afford them.
  • Hard to use for the long-term.
  • Limited in production and supply.
  • Make breathing more difficult.

The CDC has suggested that we must keep them reserved for healthcare providers.

 

What is Respirator Fit Testing?

A Respirator Fit Testing examines whether a respirator on the face is working properly. If not, the breathing system of the wearer will get hurt. Some employees are dealing with hazardous material. They could breathe them while working. So they must wear a mask or respirator. The type of respirator depends on the exposure and the material they work with.

 

N95 Respirator Fit Testing

N95 Respirator Fit Testing is part of the Respiratory test. Health care providers must receive training and pass the test to ensure the N95 is working properly on their faces. It got regulated by OSHA. The test checks whether the mask fits well on employee’s faces. Since June 1, 2020, the annual N95 Respirator Fit Testing has become mandatory.

 

Why is N95 Respirator Fit Testing Necessary?

Everybody’s face is different. So is the size, make, and model of N95 masks. If a mask does not work properly and provide protection, it is more dangerous. This fact makes N95 Respirator Fit Testing necessary. Although OSHA has regulated a test before starting to work, some changes could occur. Some factors make an N95 mask not working properly:

    • Growing beard
    • Wearing mustache
    • Having dental surgery
    • Plastic surgery
    • facial scarring
    • Any changes in the structure of the face
    • Lose or gain weight
    • Etc.

 

Any changes that happen in the face could lead to the mask not working properly. The changes might happen even without noticing. It impacts the effectiveness of the N95 masks. An N95 Respirator Fit Testing is to make sure the mask is working properly by experts.

When you perform an N95 fittest, you must use the same model, size, and make of the tested model.

SNOHC team can conduct the test on N95, half-face, and full-face masks.

How often should you conduct N95 Respirator Fit Testing

Employees have to conduct the N95 Respirator Fit Test before using the mask. The test must make sure the respirator provides maximum protection for the wearer. An annual test is the least required one. However, as we explained above, whenever wearer’s face changes, the test is mandatory.

 

Who should Provide N95 Respirator Fit Testing?

It is Employers obligation to provide the test for the workforce.

They must offer employees with a good selection of models and sizes. Not everyone can use the same mask. When employees completed the test, they must use the same model and size.

Due to medical reasons, some employees may not be able to wear a respirator. Employers must make sure the employees suffer from no medical condition.

There are independent occupational centers that provide safe tests for workers. Employers could work with them.

How to Fit-Test an N-95 Respirator?

Notify the test subjects that they must refrain from eating, drinking (except water), chewing gum, or smoking for 15 minutes before doing the respirator test for proper fit.

 

Sensitivity Test

  1. Place a hood over the test subject who is not wearing a respirator.
  2. Move the hood assembly forward so there would be about six inches between both the face and the window.
  3. Tell the test subject to breathe through a mildly open mouth with their tongue extended.
  4. Inject 10 squeezes through the hole in the hood window with Nebulizer #1 and Sensitivity Test Solution #1.
  5. Investigate whether the subject can detect the sweetness or bitterness of the solution. If the taste is satisfactory, proceed to the next step.
  6. If you haven’t tasted it yet, inject another 10 squeezes and repeat with 10 more if necessary. Take note of how many squeezes (10, 20, or 30) are needed to produce a taste response.
  7. If 30 squeezes are insufficient, the test is terminated, and another type of fit test solution is required.
  8. Remove the hood and give the subject a few minutes to clear their palate.

 

Training on their Personal Respirator

  1. A written program that is site/task detailed is necessary.
  2. Instruction on respiratory dangers specific to each task
  3. Instructions on how to use and the limitations of each respirator for each task.
  4. Teach and demonstrate donning, doffing, and adaptation procedures in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications.
  5. Provide guidance on negative and positive user seal checks in accordance with manufacturer guidelines, and allow employees to practice techniques.
  6. Fit each employee who will be appointed a respirator.
  7. Train employees on how to maintain and store respirators that are being used.
  8. Filter/cartridge replacement: when particulate filters or pre-filters become dirty, broken, or hard to breathe through; or according to the given schedule; and/or “End of Service Life Indicator” for chemical filters/cartridges.
  9. Teach employees how to identify medical signs and symptoms that may limit or prevent the effective use of respirators.
  10. Record the fulfillment of training and fit testing for all employees who may be required to wear respirators.

 

Fit Test

  1. Ask the test subject to put on the respirator and perform a user fit check per the guidelines issued.
  2. Ask the subject to put on and position the hood as before, breathing through the mouth.
  3. Apply 10 squirts of the fit test aerosol in Nebulizer #2 and Test Solution #2 (or the same number of squeezes as in the Sensitivity Test).
  4. The squeezes should be taken every 30 seconds (or half the number of squeezes…10 for 20, or 15 for 30 using the same method as the third step). For example, 10 squeezes to begin, then 5 squeezes every 30 seconds for the remaining 6 12 minute test duration.
  5. Following the initial aerosol injection, have the subject carry out the exercises for 60 seconds each (7-minute test) below:
    1. Regular breathing
    2. Deep inhalation
    3. Rotating the head from side to side (without moving shoulders)
    4. Up and down nodding of the head
    5. Speaking – for example, count backward from 60 to 1.
    6. Hunching over
    7. Normal respiration
  6. The test is canceled if the subject tastes the test agent. Keep track of whether the subject passed or failed the fit-test for that specific respirator. (Wait 15 minutes before re-testing to allow the taste to leave the subject’s mouth.)

 

What Industries Should Use N95 Masks?

The industries dealing with hazardous material have to use N95 masks. We can not name only a particular group. There might be some people in safe jobs dealing with the hazardous material. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, employees dealing with customers are to wear N95 masks.

  • Construction worker
  • Factory worker
  • Health care provider
  • Painter
  • Taxi driver
  • Woodcutter
  • Workers in oil fields
  • Vet
  • Fishmonger/fishermen
  • Miners
  • Factory workers
  • Car painter
  • Dentist
  • Service providers

The people working with tourists should be more careful. It seems we have to get used to life with Coronavirus. As Las Vegas is a tourist city, people must be more cautious. You could make an online reservation for the N95 Respirator Fit Test in Las Vegas through this link.

 

What Things Should You Consider Before and During the N95 Respirator Fit Test?

You have nothing to worry about over the N95 Respirator Fit Test. It is pretty simple and straightforward. Bring the exact items you wear while doing your job. Bring even items you might wear occasionally. The person taking the test will inform you of the detailed instructions. DO not forget to take the same model you use at work.

Inform the occupational health center of the following cases:

  • Suffering from a disease.
  • Having a particular feeling while wearing the mask
  • Can not breathe well when you wear the mask
  • Suffering headaches at work

When you complete the test, use the exact model and size used during the test. Follow the instructions by the specialist carefully. Making changes in your face could lead to the mask not working properly.

 

How long is an N95 Fit Test?

A typical session lasts between 12 and 15 minutes.

 

N95 Respirator Fit Testing in Las Vegas

Mining is a strong industry in Las Vegas. There are many Mining companies active in the city. There are more than 11 thousand people directly working in the mining industry. It has led to Nevada is the largest producer of gold in the US.

Currently, many construction companies are working in Las Vegas.

Construction workers get a good salary in the city. There is always a demand for them. It seems their number is growing rapidly.

Miners and construction workers are the two jobs that have to wear N95 masks at work. It is one of the essential safety points for them. They may wear the mask, do they make sure of their safety.

It seems N95 Respirator Fit Testing in Las Vegas is essential than other states. If companies located in Las Vegas want to assure their business continues, workforce safety is a must. They must take N95 Respirator Fit Testing in Las Vegas more seriously.

 

Conclusion

In this blog, we tried to explain the importance of the N95 Respirator Fit Test. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the importance of respirator fit tests. When you make sure your mask is working properly, there would be less stress, whether you are an employer or employee. Ensure the work is safe for everyone.

Southern Nevada Occupational Health Center offers a wide and complete range of occupational health services. Our experts will perform the N95 Respirator Fit Test in Las Vegas according to the OHSA regulations. Get an appointment online or just give us a call at (702) 874-4769.

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