Many employees rely on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as respirators, earplugs, and earmuffs to avoid the plethora of health issues that can be caused by the variety of exposures in a modern workplace.
As people come in all shapes and sizes, their PPE must be fitted correctly for their individual requirements.
Most people feel that wearing a quality piece of PPE means they are protected however when we test PPE protection, we find even the smallest error in fitting negates the effectiveness of costly PPE.
Improperly fitting Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) can lead to exposure of a wide range of airborne contaminants and the health problems often associated with them. Contaminants and toxins could leak into the breathing zone, and inhalation is one of most common ways through which foreign and potentially harmful substances can enter the body.
Improperly fitting of earplugs / earmuffs may inevitably lead to a permanent loss of hearing.
The correct fitting of PPE is paramount if you want to achieve maximum protection.
Should your employees fall into the category of utilising PPE, it is imperative their use of PPE be tested for all relevant items to ensure that one item does not interfere with the other. While a respirator might be the perfect fit, the straps could interfere with the seal of the earmuff and vice versa.
RESPIRATORY (MASK) TESTING
Respiratory and mask fit testing in Perth assesses whether the mask forms an adequate seal around the face, confirming whether the wearer is receiving sufficient extra protection against airborne contaminants / toxins and the like.
Mask fit testing has become compulsory in many workplaces under the Australian New Zealand Standard AS/NZS1715, enforcing a user be fitted before wearing a new mask. This should also be re-assessed at least annually.
With mask fit testing in Perth, not everyone will get the perfect fit with a specific respirator and if the respirator fails the fit test, different models, styles and brands will be tested until the perfect combination is found.
It is also important to note that the fit of RPE must be retested whenever there is a change in the wearer’s physical condition. Noticeable weight gain or loss, facial surgery, dental work and even the growth of a fashionable new beard can alter the fit of the mask. In addition, the employer should also ensure that the wearer is medically fit to wear the respirator before they are even fit-tested.
The Portacount Fit Test Model 8038 is the latest TSI product capable of quantitatively fit testing respirators-gas masks, SCBAs, respirators, N95, P1 and P2 disposable respirators.
When it comes to noise reduction, earplugs-or muffs are considered suitable PPE in a large number of industries and like mask fit testing, the maximum protection can only be achieved by the ideal fit. Fit testing of ear protection is compulsory in many workplaces across Australia, as per the Australian Standards AS/NZ 1269.3:2005 Occupational Noise Management.
Ear fit testing in Perth takes the guesswork out of the amount of protection employees are truly offered. The testing is quantitative, so the actual attenuation is measured, without the potentially subjective feedback from the wearer. The EARfit system tests the optimal fit through hearing protector selection. This system creates a Personal Attenuation Rating (PAR) that shows the wearer’s noise reduction levels for any given fitting. In short, ear fit testing in Perth ensures that earplugs really do provide the adequate seal and protection needed.
As an employer, you might ask yourself why an ear fit test is required if the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) rating is clearly stated on the product. The NRR does provide a good indicator on the reduction capability in perfect conditions, but it does not take the individual wearer into consideration, nor their physical traits - like ear size. By relying solely on NRR, employees are placed at risk. The adoption of individual EARfit tests are indeed gaining ground as a very powerful tool in hearing conservation programs.
Having Certified PPE fitting not only ensures the PPE is adequate for the role, it may also assist in dispelling any concerns that the workplace was involved with any employee health issues that may arise later in life.