I was surpriced when my friend show me this page in CDC site. NIOSH, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health under CDC, is the US organization who certify the well known N95 mask. What made TOTOBOBO, a little known Singapore invention of respirator mask, appears in this heavy weight website?
No, TOTOBOBO is not certified by NIOSH, at least not yet. The picture of an early version of TOTOBOBO mask found in the NIOSH website is to serve as an inspirational example for a “No Fit Test” filtering facepiece respirator workshop. The workshop will be conducted in Nov. 6 later this year and the objective is:
“To better understand the interdisciplinary research needs and challenges in developing and certifying a universal “no-fit-test” filtering-facepiece respirator”
I think this is totally appropriate and it shows NIOSH recgonize the need to improve the current procedure in order to motivate manufacturers to innovate toward the direction of “No fit test” respirator.
Why is this big fuss about “No fit Test”?
If you read carefully the fine text of your respirator instruction, you will notice a statement similar to this:
“Before use of this respirator, a written respiratory protection program must be implemented meeting all the requirements of OSHA 29 CFR 1910,134 such as training, fit testing, medical evaluation, and applicable OSHA substance specific standards.”
The simple fact is, the rated protection value will be drastically reduced if the mask does not fit your face, and there is no other ways to tell except by doing a fit-test. Buying a mask is easy, but getting a mask fit-tested on each individual is a challenge. In emergency situation like flu pandemic or haze outbreak, it is simply not possible to get everyone a fit tested at once.
One can start to sense the “pain of fit test” and how touchy this issue is from the following comment in one of the NIOSH science blog :
Hopeful to see Fit-Test to be lifted– Edward Hernandez, City of Hialeah, Fire Rescue says:- Thank you for proposing a study as this. For a while now this OSHA (Fit-test) requirement has been a burden to our Fire/EMS service.
Hopeful to see Fit Test to be simplified-Peggie Reinhardt, RN BSN, says:
I would be interested in this study, we currently fit test our employees annually. If this process could be shortened or redesigned so that it was easier to do would help tremendously.
Fighting to keep Fit-Test in organization– Sgt. Julie Love says:
I would be interested in being part of this study on the law enforcement side. We fit test our officers annually but many departments do not. Law Enforcment traditionally has fallen down in this area as many agencies just give their officers their masks without any fit testing. We also fight the battle with our management with what is mandated.
Worry that No-Fit-Test= Not Safe-Kevin MacDonald says:
I am concerned that changing the fit test frequency while cost effective may defeat its overall purpose. when fit testing went from every 6 months to one year as a requirement of OSHA it was a step back.
Confused and concern-Kelly Russell says:
I am glad this study is being done. Respiratory fit testing is expensive for employers and it will be good to have a current answer when asked why we have to do the testing so often….or maybe not so often as the case may be.
No matter what, the setting up of this workshop itself is already a breakthrough, and we are definitively happy to be associate with the solution side of the problem. We hope the result of the workshop will bring more practical innovation into the design and certification of respirator, especially taking people like housewife and children who don’t have access to fit-test equipment but also deserved to have good protection when situation come.