Respirator Fit Tests: How To

New requirements under the Worker Protection Standards (WPS) mandate that all pesticide handlers, who are applying pesticides requiring the use of a respirator, have an OSHA approved respirator fit test. These tests include;

  • A medical evaluation and questionnaire
  • A check up with a physician if deemed necessary based on medical history
  • Training on the proper use of required respirators
  • Completing the test annually

Respirator fit tests can be conducted on-farm, however this involves purchasing specialized equipment and working with physicians on the medical evaluations. Many primary care physicians are unfamiliar with this test. See full information on Fit Testing Procedures (PDF). 3M also has information and instructional videos on how to do the test.

A simplified method for obtaining a fit test for you and your handlers is to visit your local occupational health center. An internet search of “occupational health in Maine” should give you a number of options. Be sure to ask if the center offers respirator fit testing. When ready to do the testing, have a number of respirators with you as different respirator types are designed for different face shapes. Facial hair must be removed in order to use a tight-fitting face piece respirator. One alternative for those of us who are attached to our beards is to use a full faced powered air purifying respirator (PAPR).

Contact the Maine Board of Pesticide Control or your local UMaine Extension county office for more information.