Wearing Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) such as P2 dust masks and half face respirators with cartridges, has become a familiar sight at our work sites, but do they really provide the intended protection?
RPE plays an important role as the last line of defence to protect worker’s health from chemicals such as solvents, gases, diesel particulate and dusts like silica and asbestos.
Even after selecting the correct RPE, often it does not fit properly because of facial shapes, beards and stubble, and as a result the worker will not be protected. Only Fit testing can assure both the worker and the employer that the RPE can adequately fit and will provide the intended protection when correctly worn each and every time on the job. It is a mandatory requirement of AS/NZS 1715 Respiratory Protective Equipment – Selection Use & Maintenance, which also details the different fit testing methods.
However, AS/NZS 1715 does not detail the knowledge & competencies a RPE Fit Tester should have. The RESP-FIT Program will address this through a thorough Training and Accreditation Scheme. An accredited Fit Tester performing the respiratory fit testing can be someone fit testing workers within their own organisation or they have been engaged through an external company.
The creation of the RESP-FIT Program, a national standardised fit test training course syllabus and accreditation process, will mean that there will be approved training providers available nationally to train those wanting to perform fit testing which meet a minimum standard of course content and experienced trainers. The accreditation process will provide a consistent way to assess competence of accredited fit testers.
The result will be better protection from RPE and better worker health protection.
Who will Operate this National Program?
The RESP-FIT Program has been developed and will be managed by the AIOH with close cooperation and input of many industry stakeholders, such as current RPE fit testers, Occupational Hygienists, Regulators, RPE manufacturers, PPE distributors, and industry associations. The RESP-FIT program will be launched 4Q20.