How to Properly Fit Check and Fit Test Your Respirator

December 15, 2023

Here are some key points

  • Respirators can protect you from chemicals and particles like dust and mist.
  • Check your respirator for the proper fit each time you put it on.
  • Make sure there is a tight seal between your face and the facepiece at all times.

Approved respirators prevent bodily harm

Respirators prevent harmful substances like dust, chemical gases, and chemical vapors from entering your body. Only filtered air can enter your lungs when a respirator fits properly.

Putting on N95 disposable respirator
Putting on a respirator

Fit testing a half mask respirator, pushing on cartridges
Fit checking your respirator

Fit testing a half mask respirator
Fit checking your respirator

Performing a fit check

Putting on a respirator

  • Hold the respirator in your hands with the nosepiece facing up.
  • Position the mask over your mouth and nose.
  • With two-strap respirators, pull one strap over the top of your head and place above your ears, and place the bottom strap below your ears. If there is only one strap, follow the product directions.
  • Adjust the facepiece and straps until you have a comfortable fit.
  • Check the written material that comes with your respirator for additional fitting instructions.

Fit checking your respirator

  • A fit check is a safety precaution that ensures all the air you breathe is flowing through the respirator and unfiltered air is not getting past.
  • Perform a fit check every time you put on the respirator.
  • Notify a supervisor if your respirator does not pass a fit check.

Performing a fit check

  1. With your hand, cover the areas where air enters the mask.
  2. Inhale slowly for a count of ten. Do not push on the mask.
  3. Check to see if the facepiece pulls towards your face. No air should leak in between your face and facepiece.
  4. Cover the area where air leaves the mask.
  5. Exhale slowly for a count of ten. The facepiece should be bulging slightly.
  6. Check again for leaks between your face and the facepiece of the respirator.
  7. If you detect any leaks, readjust the straps and check again for a proper fit.

Qualitative fit testing

  • Occasionally, we must perform a fit test to see which respirator fits you best.
  • Fit tests must be performed annually and whenever a different respirator is used or when a facial change occurs such as scarring, dental change, cosmetic surgery or obvious weight change.
  • You will be given a choice of different sizes and respirator models.
  • Choose the model and size that gives you the appropriate seal after you correctly put on the respirator and perform a fit check.
  • You will first have to detect the fit testing agent by smelling or tasting it without wearing a respirator.
  • Disposable “dust/mist” respirator fit tests are done by squirting a sweet or bitter tasting agent in the air next to you. If you can taste the agent while wearing the respirator, you do not have a proper seal.
  • Dual cartridge fit tests will find out if you can smell an agent such as smoke or banana oil. Again, if you can smell or taste the agent, you do not have a proper seal.
  • During the fit test, you will be asked to perform certain exercises such as saying the alphabet or talking, moving your head from side to side and up and down, and marching in place while wearing the respirator.
  • If at anytime you smell or taste the substance, notify the person doing the fit test.

Fit Checking and Fit Testing Your Respirator Do’s and Don’ts


  • Know that chemicals and dust can be dangerous if inhaled without a respirator.
  • Fit check the respirator each time you put it on to make sure no air leaks between your face and the facepiece.
  • Listen and follow instructions given by your supervisor during a fit test.


  • Forget to adjust the facepiece and straps to form a tight seal between the respirator and your face.
  • Go into a potentially hazardous area without first checking the respirator for the proper fit.
  • Neglect to tell a supervisor if your respirator does not pass a fit check.

Respirator Fit Check Products

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