Employees’ health and safety should be employers’ top priority, and mask fit testing plays a vital role in achieving this goal. Skipping the fit test may lead to occupational hazards, especially in environments where exposure to harmful substances is a concern. Fitting a mask properly is crucial for its effectiveness in providing protection. This demonstration helps you see the significance of not skipping the mask fit test. Here’s how the mask fit testing works:
Mask Inspection and Proper Wearing
A well-fitted mask provides better protection to the wearer by minimizing the risk of inhaling harmful substances, such as viruses or particulate matter. In a fit testing clinic, the first things that should be done are:
- Inspect the mask from inside and outside; we will look for any noticeable damaged rips, tears, and defects.
- Make sure the nose clip is placed on top; the straps should be connected in good shape.
- We’re going to let the straps dangle down in front of the mask, and we’re going to insert our non-dominant hand between the straps and the front of the mask. Then, bring the mask up to our face. With the top strap, we will bring it up to the crown of our head, between the sides of our ears. And the lower strap to bring it up to the back of our neck.
- Spread the mask nice and wide, ensuring our nose lines up nicely and centered. Ensuring the mask is lined up well and centered on the face is essential. Also, ensure that the straps are evenly tightened on the head, making sure it’s not lopsided. At this point, compress the nose piece down. Hold it down for about five seconds, giving it a couple of extra pushes, and ensure we have a nice, tight seal. Check and make sure to tighten the seal on the bottom of the mask.
We don’t want air rushing from the sides, so we must seal checks. You should take a deep breath in and feel the mask compress on your face. What you want here is air coming through the mask, and you don’t want the air wrapping around the edges. So if this mask is compressing, you know you have a good seal around; the edge and everything that ports through the mask should feel comfortable.
There are different types of masks. Some are particle and vapor masks, meaning vapors will make it through the mask. You’ll be able to smell things like bleach, sanitizer, and rubbing alcohol; almost all smells will go right through the mask. It’s totally normal. This procedure shows the breathing test:
- They use a testing solution that tastes bitter or sweet during the test. There’s also the chance that you’ll feel the vapors coming, but what we don’t want is the strong, sweet taste that gets on your tongue. If you have that, it means we may have a breach in the seal, and the particles are coming around the mask.
- Fit test hoods will be put on your head, and we will spray or pump the testing solution in every test. You should breathe through your mouth the entire time. Again, we should not have a result with a sweet, intense taste.
- Breathe regularly for 30 seconds, and start to taste the solution. If this test passes, the next step is to take a deep breath and do eight breaths. It’s good, if still not sweet.
Seal Test Exercises
In this test, we will do what we do in our everyday lives and at work.
- Head movement: Do regular breathing again and turn your head from left to right, slowly moving back and forth, just breathing normally. If nothing else, move your head up and down and breathe normally. The whole point of this is to cover our range of motion, ensuring we maintain a solid seal during any movement.
- Talking: It makes a significant movement because of our jaw muscles. The masks will move, so this is a perfect exercise you shouldn’t skip when fitting a mask because talking is part of our daily lives. They will give reading materials or just count from 1 to 30.
- Walking and Running: Start walking through the room repeatedly, then jog around or jog in place.
- Bend over and stand up: Bend over like you’re trying to reach something and stand up. This exercise is when you’re working, dropping something with the mask on and picking it up right. That step is still good.
- Open the bottom of your mask: This should be the last step to ensure the test works. Quickly open the bottom of your mask and breathe into your mouth again; you should get a strong, sweet taste. This kind of ease of mind lets you know that the mask is working properly.
Always follow the specific instructions provided by the fit testing kit manufacturer, or you can also visit mask testing clinics because they use special testing equipment. Just search on Google for fit testing Melbourne, which specializes in quantitative fit testing. Their goal is to ensure you with peace of mind that you and your team’s RPE are properly fitted, receiving the mask’s full intended level of protection. I hope this will help you avoid skipping and underestimating this testing.