Prepared by: Dr Peter McGarry – A/Director Asbestos Unit, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland. Certified Occupational Hygienist
The Rural Industry Sector Standing Committee have submitted the following enquiry for the Office of Industrial Relations to respond to:
Fit-testing requirements for tight-fitting respirators
- Is it a legal requirement?
- Must it be done professionally (https://www.surefitservices.com.au/) or can it be done by a manager?
OIR Response to Questions
Is it a legal requirement?
Fit testing of a respirator is specified in seven Queensland Codes of Practice (COP) and therefore it is clear the duty in relation to the provision of personal protective equipment includes the requirement to fit test respirators. A relevant extract from the How to Safely Remove Asbestos COP 2021 is set out below, which states on page 80:
The fit of a negative-pressure respirator to a worker’s face is critical. A fit test, in accordance with AS/NZS 1715:2009: Selection, use and maintenance of respiratory protective equipment and the manufacturer’s instructions, should be performed to assist in determining the respirator with the best fit for the individual worker immediately before commencing work and a fit check performed each time the respirator is to be used.
Must if be done professionally?
Respirator fit testing should be conducted by a competent person who is appropriately trained, qualified and experienced. Once a person is fit tested to their respirator it is also important that the person is trained and competent to put the respirator on correctly and check for a good fit every time it is used. This is known as a pre-use wearer-seal check (fit check). Note, however, that a pre-use wearer-seal check is not a substitute for fit testing.
In summary, the fit testing requirements for tight-fitting respirators must be undertaken in order to meet duties contained within the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and must be done by a competent person.