The Importance of Fit Testing

A respirator only provides adequate protection to a wearer when it is sealed to the skin, so that air only passes through the respirator’s filter. Without a seal, the air will go around the respirator, leaving the worker vulnerable to harmful airborne particles. With this in mind, it is important to test the level of protection offered by a respirator on each user to ensure optimal protection.

All tight-fitting respirators, including both supplied-air respirators and air-purifying respirators, must undergo fit testing to ensure they are protecting the wearer sufficiently from respirable environmental hazards in the workplace. A respirator fit test
determines whether the respirator is able to keep its seal even when the worker is moving about while conducting their tasks.

In accordance with the Australian Standard AS/NZS 1715-2009, fit testing is obligatory for all tight-fitting facepieces.




What respirators should be fit tested?

Disposable Facepiece
(“Dust Masks”)
Half & Full Face
Masks With Filters
Powered Masks
Breathable Compressed Air or Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus

Types of Respirator Fit Testing

Qualitative Fit Testing Method.jpg
Qualitative Fit Testing Method.jpg

Qualitative Fit Test

A qualitative fit test relies on the worker’s ability to detect the taste or smell of a substance through their respirator.


Once a fit test hood has been donned, a test agent is sprayed inside of the hood while the wearer performs a series of movements, breathing and talking.


Accepted test agents include isoamyl acetate (banana smell) for use with organic vapour cartridges, and a saccharin fit test (sweet taste) or a Bixtrex fit test (bitter taste) for use with particulate filters of any class. If the wearer does not detect the solution, the respirator fit passes the test.


Qualitative fit testing is only to be used for half-face respirators.

ATOM Portacount Pro Quantitative Fit Testing.jpg
ATOM Portacount Pro Quantitative Fit Testing.jpg

Quantitative Fit Test

A quantitative fit test uses a machine to detect the numeral amount of leakage into the respirator. A hose will attach the machine to a probe on the facepiece. A PortaCount Pro is an ambient particle counting device used in quantitative fit testing to produce Fit Factor results – a measure of how well sealed a respirator is to the wearer’s face. This is expressed as a ratio, for example, a fit factor of 100 means that the filtered air inside of the respirator is 100 times cleaner than the air outside of the respirator. In terms of the particle size range that the PortaCount Pro can measure, the 50% cut off is 0.02 micrometres (μm), meaning half of the 0.02 particles will be counted and half will not be. Up to 100% of the particles at the size of 0.04 μm will be counted.

Quantitative fit testing is able to be used for half face and full face respirators, as well as PAPRs so long as the mask is in negative-pressure mode. It is also important to note that no smoking is permitted within 60 minutes before a fit test as exhaled particles from the smoke will be counted and a lower fit factor will be recorded.

To test the seal of a tight-fitting respirator under stress, subjects are commonly
required to do a number of movements for one minute each such as:

To test the seal of a tight-fitting respirator under stress, subjects are commonly
required to do a number of movements for one minute each such as:

Quantitative Respirator Fit Test Excercises

To test the seal of a tight-fitting respirator under stress, subjects are commonly
required to do a number of movements for one minute each such as:

Choose ATOM Safety for your Fit Testing

It is important that the person conducting the fit test is well trained in testing as the results can be greatly affected by the competency of the fit tester. If the fit test is not conducted correctly, the wearer of the respirator may be at risk of exposure to contaminants. All ATOM Safety team members are RESP-FIT Certified, having completed a national standardised fit test training course syllabus and accreditation process. This ensures the accurate procedure is followed during fit testing so that your team receive the best possible protection from their respirator usage.

ATOM Safety uses PortaCount Pro machines to conduct quantitative fit testing in line with national standards. We have the ability to test most respirator brands on the market. A respirator fit test report is issued upon passing the test which includes details of the respirator and test, as well as the overall fit factor. The ATOM Safety team can also advise which type of respirators are best for your workplace, with extensive knowledge on a wide variety of styles from leading brands.

We Can Come to You!

ATOM Safety is able to conduct fit testing at the following ATOM Industrial and Safety Walkthrough Warehouses:

  • Kewdale, Perth, WA

  • Eagle Farm, Brisbane, QLD

  • Mackay, QLD

  • Wetherill Park, Sydney, NSW 

  • Newcastle, NSW

  • Dandenong, Melbourne, VIC

Can't make it in-store? We can come to your site or workplace around Australia! All you need is a small clear space to conduct the testing with power and a table available. The team must bring with them the respirators they intend to wear and be ready for the fit test with a clean-shaven face.

Quantitative Fit Test PortaCount Pro Machine ATOM Safety
Header back 3.jpg
ATOM Safety-horizontal-REV.png


Bottom Header Strip.jpg