Recently, EHSQ Development performed a Qualitative Mask Fit Test (QLFT) to all employees of Imerys Ceramics Egypt (ICE) at Ramadan city, Egypt. A good fit means the respirator will seal to your skin. A respirator can only work when air passes through the filter. Air will take the path of least resistance, so if the seal isn’t there, the air will go around rather than through the respirator – and therefore lessen the protection.
A qualitative fit test (QLFT) may only be used to fit-test certain negative-pressure, air-purifying respirators and positive-pressure, atmosphere-supplying respirators. It relies on the user’s ability to detect a particular taste, smell or irritant.
QLFT is pass/fail and relies on the user’s senses using one of OSHA-accepted test agents: a sweet taste agent) or a bitter taste agent.
The QLFT method uses seven exercises performed for 1 minute each:
- Normal breathing.
- Deep breathing.
- Moving head side to side.
- Moving head up and down.
- Bending over.
- Normal breathing again.
If the employee doesn’t detect the smell/taste that means that the mask fits correctly. Otherwise we need to repeat the test with another type of mask.