NIOSH will offer the webinar, "The Science Behind Respirator Fit Testing in the Workplace: Past, Present, and Future," on N95 Day, Sept. 6, 2016.
This webinar aims to help participants answer two common questions:
- Why does the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) require employers to fit test those employees who are required to wear filtering facepiece respirators or half-mask elastomeric respirators?
- And why every year?
Additionally, participants will learn more about the science leading toward better fitting N95 respirators in the future:
Part 1 (past) Dr. Christopher Coffey will focus on the initial science behind the OSHA requirements to better explain why they are what they are. In the last two decades, NIOSH has published several research studies demonstrating why initial respirator fit testing is so important. In general, these studies found that subjects that had been fit tested had higher simulated workplace protection factors (SWPFs) than subjects that did not undergo fit testing. The title of his presentation is “Simulated Workplace Protection Factor Testing of N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators.”
Part 2 (present) Dr. Ziqing Zhuang will discuss the findings of a recent NIOSH study that supports the need for annual fit testing. In this study, an initial cohort of 229 human test subjects volunteers were fit tested twice a year over a three-year period. The study found that respirator fit did change over time. The estimated percent of workers whose respirator did not fit them increased with increasing length of time between fit tests, from 10% at Year 1 to 20% at Year 2, doubling those at risk for exposure if not fit tested, and to 26 percent at Year 3. This exceeds the 7 percent threshold used by OSHA in 1998 during rulemaking. Additionally, twenty-four percent of subjects who lost more than 20 pounds no longer maintained an acceptable fit. The title of his presentation is “Laboratory Study to Assess Causative Factors Affecting Temporal Changes in Filtering-Facepiece Respirator Fit –Three Year Assessment of Fit Changes”.
Part 3 (future) Michael Bergman will discuss recent NIOSH developments toward improved headforms used for studying respirator fit of N95 filtering facepiece respirators. In 2008 NIOSH hosted a workshop titled “No Fit Test Respirator” in response to an Institute of Medicine recommendation for research toward better-fitting respirators, with the ultimate goal of finding a way to avoid the need for initial and annual fit testing. One technique that will help the scientific community understand the factors that affect respirator fit is the use of improved headforms. The recently developed NIOSH headform represents a significant advancement from older rubber or plastic headforms, which the respirator seal could not attach to in the same way as human skin. In this presentation, Mr. Bergman will summarize the development of the headform, discuss findings from recent papers that demonstrate correlation with human subject studies, and discuss future direction in research on using advanced headforms to assess respirator facepiece leakage.
For more information and to register for this webinar, visit the N95 2016 webpage.