RESP-FIT is a national respirator protective equipment (RPE) fit testing training and accreditation program developed to improve the competency of fit testers against both the Australian and international ISO respirator standards for fit testing. RESP-FIT was developed by the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists (AIOH) through close collaboration with many industry stakeholders such as:
→ Current RPE fit testers.
→ State & Territory Regulators.
→ RPE Manufacturers and Distributors.
→ Industry, workers and members of the AIOH.
Our goal is to protect worker’s health by ensuring the respirator, the last line of defense against dust, chemicals or pathogens, can fit properly and prevent leakages causing exposures to the contaminated air.
The objective of RESP-FIT is to improve worker health protection of those wearing tight fitting respiratory protective equipment, through reliable respirator fit testing by competent fit testers in Australia by
- A standardised training syllabus to improve respirator fit tester knowledge and skills;
- Demonstration of competence through an accreditation process to ISO 16975-3 Section 5.
It provides information and tools for workplaces to make an informed decision on RPE fit testing that is appropriate and suitable for their working environment and controls.
No, attending a RESP-FIT Approved course or using a RESP-FIT Accredited fit tester is NOT legally required specifically. RESP-FIT seeks to provide a easier way for workplaces and individuals to educate and demonstrate competence when it comes to respirator fit testing.
Legislation does require employers and PCBUs that issue PPE to workers as a control that it is suitable for the nature of the work and any hazard associated with the work. It must also be a suitable size, fit and reasonably comfortable.
Fit testing for all tight fitting respirators (positive and negative pressure) is a mandatory part of AS/NZS 1715 Respiratory Protection Programs and mandated by all international respiratory protection programs. There is clear evidence that real world respiratory protective equipment (RPE) protection factors are improved when there is a respirator fit testing as part of a respiratory protection program (RPP).
The RESP-FIT training and accreditation will cover the three methodologies below:
- Qualitative (QLFT) – Aerosol Taste Test (ATT);
- Quantitative (QNFT)- Ambient aerosol condensation nuclei-counting (CNC);
- Quantitative (QNFT) – Controlled Negative Pressure (CNP).
RESP-FIT is not covering practical training or assessing competence for other fit test methodologies, such as Vapour qualitative fit test with isoamyl acetate(IAA)/banana oil or irritant smoke.
RESP-FIT have developed a comprehensive training syllabus based on AS/NZS 1715 and ISO 16975-3. Training providers develop their course material and trainer qualifications will be submitted to RESP-FIT for review and approval. Nominated trainers must meet specific qualifications, skills and knowledge requirements. Once approved, these training providers will be listed on this website following the program launch in December 2020. All courses will provide an overview of all fit testing methodologies, however training providers will nominate what methodology the hands on practical component of their course will cover. This may be 1, 2, or 3 methodologies.
Once approved this course becomes an “RESP-FIT Approved Training Provider” and the trainer becomes a “Approved RESP-FIT Trainer”. It is a 3 year approval and their details will be on the RESP-FIT website
The approved RESP-FIT training courses will provide the knowledge foundation and hands-on demonstration for fit test operators. It also covers the core knowledge and skills that will be make up the assessment process for accredited fit testers. It is not mandatory for individuals seeking accreditation to have completed an approved RESP-FIT training course, but is recommended
Workplaces or individuals will contact the individual training providers to book into a course or arrange a course. On completion of a RESP-FIT Approved Course attendees will receive a “Certification of Completion”. Completion of a RESP-FIT Approved training course is not a designation of competence by RESP-FIT or the AIOH.
RESP-FIT have developed an assessment process against ISO 16975-3 Section 5 to be deemed competent and a “RESP-FIT Accredited fit tester” for a nominated methodology by the AIOH. The accreditation process involves 2 Stages as below.
Stage 1: Theoretical Assessment
Timed theory assessment (1 Hour) is a general online theory assessment covering theory for all methodologies assessed under the RESP-FIT Program based on AS/NZS 1715, OSHA and ISO 16975-3 requirements. The pass mark is 80% for the theoretical assessment.
Step 2: Practical Assessment by Video
On successful completion of Stage 1, the applicant provides a cloud video file link or YouTube link of themselves performing the nominated fit test methodology using the OSHA 1910.134 protocol(as detailed below for each methodology) for assessment of practical skills by nominated RESP-FIT assessors. They will be assessed for correct technique and explanation of the process, including the importance of each step and pitfalls to avoid.
- QLFT-ATT – OSHA Saccharin Solution Aerosol Protocol or Bitrex (Denatonium Benzoate) Solution Aerosol Protocol
- QNFT-CNC – OSHA Ambient aerosol condensation nuclei counter (CNC) quantitative fit testing protocol (7 exercises)
- QNFT-CNP – OSHA Controlled negative pressure (CNP) REDON quantitative fit testing protocol
The practical assessment video is required within 3 months of competing the Stage 1. A separate video (maximum 20 minutes) is required for each fit test methodology. The applicant is responsible to ensure the video clip demonstrates their ability and competence.
RESP-FIT accreditation is for a three period. Re-accreditation requires completing Stage 1 and Stage 2.
RESP-FIT is an initiative of the AIOH and is managed by a separate Board of 10 individuals who have extensive experience in respiratory protection programs and respirator fit testing including Certified Occupational Hygienists, respirator manufacturers and PPE distributors. The Board is supported by a pool of experienced Assessors who conduct the examination of training materials and fit tester evaluations following the robust RESP-FIT processes that have been developed.
The RESP-FIT Board and working groups commenced development of the program in early 2019 and has been working hard in a voluntary capacity since this time to bring RESP-FIT to life to achieve the objective of the program which is to improve worker health protection of those wearing tight fitting respiratory protective equipment, through reliable respirator fit testing by competent fit testers in Australia. As well as to provide information and tools for workplaces to make an informed decision on RPE fit testing that is appropriate and suitable for their working environment and controls.