Fit Validation

Fit Validation

  • Fit validation forms an essential part of an overall workplace protection programme. It is intended to help the wearer select the right product/size and train in the correct usage to ensure an appropriate level of protection against workplace hazard(s). The principles of fit validation can be applied to any item of PPE, however recognized fit validation methods (fit tests) are commonly used for tight-fitting respirators, hearing protection and eyewear.


How can fit validation help fit issues?

    • Key element of workplace protection programme
    • Gives an assessment of how well a given PPE fits the worker
    • Also an assessment of comfort, compatibility and overall suitability for the wearer
    • Ideal training opportunity for the worker on the use and correct fitting of PPE

There are different interpretations of how fit validation should be implemented in different countries around the world. However, there are two key methodologies that are used: qualitative and quantitative fit testing.


Fit Testing Methods

  • Qualitative - is simply a pass/fail criteria based on wearer’s subjective response

    • Provides simple PASS / FAIL based on wearer’s subjective assessment or limited objective measurement e.g. pressure leak test for some custom moulded earplugs
    • Wearer decides whether the PPE fits or not based upon taste / smell for filtering respirators, for example
  • Quantitative - provides quantifiable information and generates numerical value which can then be interpreted in the light of workplace hazards

    • Provides an objective measurement of the fit performance of the product
    • For filtering respirators, this value is compared to a minimum performance level to determine PASS/FAIL
    • For hearing protective devices, this value determines a Personal Attenuation Rating (PAR)

What is the difference between fit check and fit test?

Fit validation can be performed by either the simple fit check method or a fit test method. Fit check is a very simple method to check if the PPE is positioned correctly on the wearer - it does not indicate the level of protection achieved by the wearer.

  • Fit check

    • Conducted by the employee/wearer each time they put on PPE
    • Good practice that gives an indication that the PPE is positioned correctly on the wearer
    • Responsibility remains with the employee
    • Shows crude fitting errors
    • Guidance provided in User Instructions
  • Fit test

    • Test that must be conducted each time a new model of PPE is selected
    • Conducted by a competent person appointed by the employer
    • Employers responsibility and is a requirement in some countries as part of national regulation

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