March 19, 2014 Justin McCarter Share
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Fit testing your company employees for respirators can be thought of the same way the Chinese symbol for crisis incorporates the characters for danger as well as opportunity. Sure there’s a chance for things to get completely messed up. Done incorrectly, your fit testing might result in long lines of employees standing idle for hours which would be embarrassing for the fit test administrator and bad for the bottom line. If you are in charge of fit testing for a large organization like a hospital or government agency, it might make the nightly news. Heck, you might go viral!
With great power comes great responsibility and fit testing provides the opportunity not only to provide workers with properly fitting lung protection, but also to update and improve worker files and review company-wide information.
Respirator fit testing for a large number of people requires forethought, planning, endurance, and a large supply of saccharine solution. Whether your organization is a government branch, a construction site, a fertilizer plant, or just a company with lots of flying particles, fit testing sizable groups of people requires communication and planning.
The 3M Bitrex Fit Test and Allegro Saccharin Kits are very similar. As a general rule, the testing takes about 10-15 minutes for each participant. Depending on the number of people being tested, multiple administrative staff may be required. By properly staffing the fit test stations you can help increase the flow of intake and testing. Get them in, get them out, and get on with your lives!
Sending out the mandatory OSHA respirator medical questionnaire in advance is another time-saving measure which will keep the process moving along. Whether you’re testing a dozen people or a staff the size of a small country, it’s a good idea to have people sign up and schedule their fit testing. This way only a manageable number of employees are away from their jobs at one time. You might also find it helpful to check with supervisors to determine if there are better times for certain departments to report for testing.
Communication is key. If email isn’t available to reach all staff members, as may be the case with some large-scale construction projects, make sure sign-up sheets are highly visible. Have questionnaires available both at the sign-up location, and at the first stage of intake for the tests. Schedule additional time for that remarkably large section of employees who will inevitably forget. As the saying goes, plant your corn early. (Maybe that’s not a saying.) In any event, clear, ongoing communication about the process, and reasonable expectations for the time it will take to move through testing for all employees will decrease the danger of poor execution and increase your opportunity to complete your fit testing and update other required office requirements with a minimum of stress and distraction.
If you need help administering your fit tests, you are on your own. But if you need information or supplies, we are certainly here for you. Simply call us at 1-800-829-9580, or contact us online at www.pksafety.com Monday through Friday 6am till 5pm PST.