Don’t Just Wear a Mask, Wear it Right: A Guide to Proper Mask Fitting

A poorly fitted mask can be just as dangerous as not wearing a mask at all. To make sure you’re fully protected, read on for our guide to proper mask fitting.

Choosing the Right Size 

N95 respirators only successfully fit 85 percent of women (and just 60 percent of Asian women) in contrast to the higher 95 percent rate in men (The Hill). Many studies indicate that woman in general are less likely to be given the most appropriately fitting PPE or respirator fit equipment (OSHA). According to another study conducted by the Center for Construction Research and Training, 77% of tradeswomen had been exposed to a hazard unnecessarily because of ill-fitting PPE (Construction Dive).

Personal protective equipment used by women workers should be based upon female anthropometric (body measurement) data. Women should make a point to test employer provided PPE, and if the provided PPE is uncomfortable, or not suitable for the worker (e.g., improperly fitting or damaged from wear or defect) they should report this condition to their employer for a suitable replacement.

According to Occupational Safety and Health Standards 1910 (OSHA), “The test subject shall be allowed to pick the most acceptable respirator from a sufficient number of respirator models and sizes so that the respirator is acceptable to, and correctly fits, the user.”

Respiratory fit masks come in different sizes, so it’s important to choose the right size for your face. A mask that is too large or too small will not provide adequate protection.

Perform a Fit-Test Regularly

Fit tests are used to determine whether a mask is properly fitted to the wearer’s face. There are two types of fit tests: quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative fit tests use a machine to measure the amount of leakage around the mask, while qualitative fit tests rely on the wearer’s sense of taste or smell to detect leakage. Your face can change size, your job can change and your test should be done regularly. 

Check the Seal 

After donning the mask, check the seal by covering the filter with your hands and inhaling. If the mask collapses inward, it indicates a good seal. If there is air leakage around the edges of the mask, adjust the straps or nosepiece to achieve a better fit. The full expectations can be found here to help you further prepare as an employer or individual for your mask fit test.


Facial hair, such as a beard or mustache, can interfere with the seal of a respiratory fit mask. If you have facial hair, you may need to shave it in order to achieve a proper fit.

At MedPhysicals Plus, we understand the importance of respiratory fit testing to prevent irreversible damage to your respiratory system. That’s why we offer a comprehensive respiratory fit test that ensures your mask fits properly and provides maximum protection. Don’t wait until it’s too late to take action. Schedule an appointment with us today and breathe easy, knowing your respiratory health is in good hands. Learn more here: