Respirator Program: how it works

1. Contact Risk Management & Safety for a Risk Assessment

Complete a Respirator Request Form. After the form has been received, Safety staff will contact you to perform the required risk assessment. Safety staff will determine the type of respirator needed based on the results of a risk assessment. They will also determine whether a respirator is required or may be used voluntarily. Medical clearance, fit testing, and training is required for all respirator users following the assessment.

2. Complete a Medical Questionnaire Form

After the risk assessment has been completed, the employee is required to complete a medical evaluation and follow the instructions on the form for submission. 

UVM's occupational health care provider (OHCP) will review the medical evaluation to determine any potential health risks to the employee, and whether further clinical interaction or preventative steps are necessary to protect the employee's health. OHCP will establish a clearance status, and forward the results to the UVM Respirator Program Manager and the employee.

3. Training & Fit Testing

Once medically cleared to wear a respirator, contact Risk Management & Safety to schedule initial fit testing & training prior to using a respirator.  Contact RM&S at 656-2570 or

Each fit test takes approximately 30 minutes. Please be punctual, and if you cannot keep your appointment then call ahead. A technician will be scheduled to conduct your test on the day/time given to you – please be respectful of this.

Preparation for your test:

  • Please bring your personal respirator (if applicable) for fit testing.
  • Notify us in advance if you wear facial hair. If not, come to the appointment “Clean Shaven”.
  • Avoid wearing excessive makeup.
  • If you are a smoker please refrain from smoking at least an hour before your test.
  • Please bring proof of medical clearance

What is a Fit Test?

A fit test assesses the suitability of a size and brand of mask to fit an individual wearer. There are 2 categories of fit test:

  • A Quantitative fit test (QNFT) is an assessment of the adequacy of respirator fit by numerically measuring the amount of leakage into the respirator.
  • A Qualitative fit test (QLFT) is a pass/fail fit test to assess the adequacy of respirator fit that relies on the individual’s response to a test agent e.g. irritant smoke.

What to expect:

  • To be shown how to put on a respirator, how it should be positioned on the face, how to set strap tension and how to determine an acceptable fit.
  • To pick an acceptable, correctly fitting respirator.
  • To assess the comfort and adequacy of the respirator fit.
  • To conduct a user seal check.
  • To perform a series of test exercises while wearing the respirator: 1) breathe normally, 2) breathe deeply, 3) turn head side to side, 4) move head up and down slowly, 5) read the VOSHA rainbow passage, 6) grimace, 7) jog in place (or alternative to simulate physical demands of work on the device), 8) breathe normally.


4. Annual Respirator Use Requirements

Upon completion of all UVM Respiratory Protection Program requirements, retain copies of all forms/certifications (e.g. medical clearance approval, fit-test record) in your lab safety notebook.

Fit tests are an annual requirement for respirator users at UVM, and are also required whenever an employee receives a new or different respirator, after dental surgery, facial surgery, a weight gain or loss greater than 20% and at any time, as requested.

There is an annual training requirement for all respirator use*.

*Those using disposable respirators under OSHA's voluntary use program are not required to complete annual training.