New NIOSH Challenge Focuses on Respirator Fit Evaluation

New NIOSH Challenge Focuses on Respirator Fit Evaluation

The challenge invites people to submit ideas on making fit-testing practices better.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is launching a challenge aimed at fit testing evaluation for respirators.

Fit testing is required by OSHA yearly and whenever employees use a new respirator. However, not every employer may be able to meet these requirements. According to a NIOSH news release, resources to do fit testing may be a concern for “small or disadvantaged workplaces.”

In partnership with Capital Consulting Corporation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NIOSH announced the Respirator Fit Evaluation Challenge on January 10. The challenge seeks “novel ideas” that could positively influence fit-testing practices for respirators.

“Fit testing is vital to ensure a respirator wearer is receiving the expected level of protection and is wearing a correctly fitting model and size,” said Maryann D’Alessandro, PhD, director of NIOSH’s National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory, which is sponsoring the Challenge, in the news release.

Those who wish to participate must submit a concept paper for the first phase by May 12, 2023. The paper should not be longer than 10 pages and should explain the participant’s idea, said NIOSH. Throughout the multiple phases, participants will be able to win up to a combined total of $350,000.

Those who register will be able to attend a Zoom orientation webinar on February 2 to learn more about the challenge.

Interested in participating? Register online.

“We hope this Challenge helps us identify a practical solution that delivers users, whether in a workplace or not, immediate information on a respirator’s fit,” D’Alessandro continued.

Editor's Note: On 4/27/2023, the article was updated to reflect the newly announced extended deadline. The original deadline was May 1, 2023. 

About the Author

Alex Saurman is a former Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety,who has since joined OH&S’s client services team. She continues to work closely with OH&S’s editorial team and contributes to the magazine.

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