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OSHA Proposes Revised Procedures for Fit Testing Respirators

OSHA has proposed two revised fit test procedures under the Respiratory Protection Standard for determining the effectiveness of respiratory protection facemasks.

In 1998, OSHA issued the revised OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard, 29 CFR 1910.134, which incorporated two categories of respirator fit tests. Some tests expose wearers to airborne agents to determine if they can detect them and other tests use a machine to measure how much of a test agent leaks into a respirator. The proposed revisions would allow certain machine-based fit tests to be conducted more quickly and increase the required score for passing them.

According to the notice, OSHA proposes adding two quantitative fit-testing protocols that would apply to employers in general industry, shipyard employment and construction. The first proposed protocol includes the eight fit-testing exercises found in Part I.A.14 of Appendix A of the Respiratory Protection Standard, but with each exercise lasting 30 seconds instead of 60 seconds, as is currently required.

The second proposed change would eliminate two of the eight fit-testing exercises, with the remaining six exercises lasting 40 seconds. This protocol also would increase the current minimum pass-fail fit-testing criterion from a fit factor of 100 to 200 for half masks and from 500 to 1,000 for full facepieces.

OSHA published this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Jan. 21 Federal Register. To comment, go to and reference Docket No. OSHA-2007-0007. Comments may also be submitted by fax at 202-693-1648 or by mail to the OSHA Docket Office, Technical Data Center, Room N-2625, OSHA, Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20210.

Comments must be submitted by March 23, 2009.
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