January 19, 2023

NIOSH Announces Competition for Improved Respirator Fit-Testing Solutions

On Jan. 10, NIOSH launched the Respirator Fit Evaluation Challenge, a crowdsourcing competition offering a total of $350,000 in prize money for solutions that improve respirator fit testing. According to NIOSH’s announcement, small or disadvantaged workplaces often lack the resources required to conduct initial and annual fit testing to ensure that workers are wearing correctly fitting respirator models and sizes, as required by OSHA for all workplaces where employees must wear respirators. The announcement also states that members of the public are increasingly wearing respirators such as N95s for protection against infectious diseases, wildfire smoke, and pollution, without knowing whether the equipment provides adequate protection.

The challenge will progress in multiple phases. To compete in Phase 1, individuals or teams must submit a concept paper no longer than 10 pages that outlines their ideas for improving respirator fit testing and feedback by May 1, 2023. Up to 20 participants will be eligible to win $5,000 in Phase 1 and advance to Phase 2.

NIOSH’s National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) is sponsoring the challenge. “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,” said Maryann D’Alessandro, PhD, the director of NPPTL.

Participants must register on the challenge website. An orientation webinar will be held on Feb. 2 to provide more information and answer participants’ questions.