Over 3 million United States employees in approximately 1.3 million workplaces are required to wear respiratory protection. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) (29 CFR 1910.134) requires an annual fit test to confirm the fit of any respirator that forms a tight seal on the wearer’s face before it is used in the workplace.
Once a fit test has been done to determine the best respirator model and size for a particular user, a user seal check should be done every time the respirator is to be worn to ensure an adequate seal is achieved.
In a recently published list of frequently asked questions about user seal checks, NIOSH states seal checks should be conducted every time respiratory protection is used on the job, and employers and workers should ensure the equipment is worn properly so an adequate seal is achieved.
The Q&A also states that a user should only wear respirator models with which they have achieved a successful fit test within the last year. NIOSH data suggests that the added care from performing a user seal check leads to higher quality donnings (e.g., reduces the chances of a donning with a poor fit).