Having an appropriate fit test completed for your workers who wear respirators at work is a necessary obligation of employers as detailed in AS/NZS 1715:2009. Guidance sheets published by WorkSafe NZ make it clear that fit testing is a necessary step in minimising the risk of ill-health of workers who wear respiratory protection for their job and is something WorkSafe are educating PCBUs on as part of their Clean Air Programme. 

The quantitative method is the preferred and most accurate method of respirator fit testing.  Quantitative fit testing measures the particulates inside the respirator in comparison with the particulates in the room where the fit testing is being done.  As a result of these two measurements a ratio is determined and if the result is over a certain ratio for the mask type a good fit can be confirmed.  A good fit ensures the worker will get maximum protection from the respirator.

Our quantitative fit testing is conducted using a state-of-the-art PortaCount Pro+ machine. The fit test itself is done by the wearer undertaking a number of non-strenuous exercises with the respirator on and connected to the PortaCount. The PortaCount measures the  number of particulates, does a number of checks and balances and determines, by a Fit Factor result, just how good the fit is.

Each appointment for a quantitative fit test takes about half an hour and this includes educating the user on how to use, store, clean and inspect the respirator.  The training aspect of the appointment is invaluable. 

Remember that every persons facial features are different, therefore, one respirator model or size will not fit everyone. To avoid costly errors in purchasing the wrong sized respirator get the fit test done first and we can advise the correct size respirator to obtain in your preferred model.

Respirator fit testing must be completed:

  • for all respirators that rely on the seal of the facepiece against the face (fullface, halfface, disposable)
  • prior to respirator issue
  • at least annually
  • whenever there are changes in the wearer's facial characteristics (excessive weight change, loss of teeth, etc)


Rebecca Dillon, one of Working for Health's Health and Safety Advisers, undertakes a fit test using the PortaCount Pro fit testing machine.


"Working for Health was engaged by B.E.C.A. consultants on the DC6 site at Fonterra Whareroa in Hawera, to provide a site occupational health nurse for the project. The nurse visited the site twice a month, engaging our work crew in a number of health issues. Our work crew was made up of mainly middle aged men, most were smokers. The nurse was very successful, having 3 of the 11 smokers give up smoking and a further 2 have cut back. The professionalism of the nurse throughout the project has been outstanding and I would not hesitate in recommending Working for Health to any company for health service."  
Bruce Watson
Contract Site Supervisor and HSE Rep at Fulton Hogan
"MODEC Management Services New Zealand (Operators of the Maari Oil Field) have used Working for Health, for over 2 years, and have always found the team to be very professional in their approach to Occupational Health. MODEC use Working for Health for the following: Annual Health Assessments, Pre and Post employment Medicals, Noise Mapping and Specific Atmosphere Monitoring. MODEC has always found the team to be very prompt in their response. Furthermore, they have also been flexible with the challenges of working offshore."  
Morgan Davies
HSSEQ and Training Coordinator, HSSEQ at MODEC Management Services (NZ) Pte Ltd