Respirator fit testing systems are the most frequently requested items in our rental pool. And over the years, we've heard a lot of stories from customers who had bad experiences, since there are so many things to consider. So, here's a short checklist to help you avoid the headaches and get the right quantitative system for your respirator fit testing requirements.
#1: Renting the wrong machine.
Make sure you get the right machine for the type of mask you use. The TSI Portacount Pro 8030 and the OHD Quantifit are OSHA and NFPA accepted for tight-fitting respirators. But only the TSI PortaCount Pro+ 8038 is approved for testing N95 disposable masks (plus P1 and P2). If you're familiar with the now-retired TSI PortaCount Plus models, and you used a TSI 8020, upgrade to the 8030. If you used the 8028 and 8095, you'll want a TSI 8038.
#2: Lack of mask adapters.
All quantitative respirator fit test systems require you to use an adapter between the device and your individual respirator mask. Some rental companies will insist that you buy the mask adapter, and others charge you an additional rental fee for these necessary accessories. Find a rental company that offers you the mask adapter for free as part of the rental kit. At RAECO Rents, we keep the most commonly-requested mask adapters — 3M, MSA, Avon, North, Scott, and Survivair — in stock, and include them in the rental kit for free.
#3: No particle generator.
As we talked about in an earlier post, a particle generator is becoming more and more necessary for accurate fit testing. As more buildings are installing high-efficiency air handlers, it's not always sufficient to test with just the particles in the ambient air. But again, look for a rental company that doesn't nickel and dime you into adding this accessory, without which you might not be able to test at all. It should be included in your rental kit for free.
#4: Lack of consumables.
Rental companies generally include a limited supply of consumable items (push pins, probes, cups, clips, and alcohol) in the rental kit for free. When you call to schedule your rental, a good rental service will ask you how many people you'll be testing, to make sure you have the right amount of consumables in your kit. They may ask you to buy any extras above and beyond what normally comes in the kit, but you won't be caught unprepared when you run out of supplies half-way through testing your team.
#5: The need for fit testing certification.
You don't need to be certified to run a quantitative respirator fit test. In fact, the manufacturers we work with have made their systems fairly easy, with menu-driven commands and quick-start guides. All you really need is some time to prepare. Find yourself a rental company that allows a free "get acquainted" period or a training day, free online video tutorials, webinar training, and 24/7 support.
For instance, RAECO Rents customers have free anytime access to more than three hours of TSI video training on the PortaCount Pro series, including an intro to quantitative fit testing, performing daily checks, setting up the database, troubleshooting failed tests, and producing reports. And when customers do have issues in the field, our team is available by phone, e-mail, or online chat for assistance. Want to learn more?