What? You didn’t know it was N95 day? Don’t worry! Exchanging gifts is not a required practice. N95 Day is a time to recognize the importance of respiratory protection in the workplace and familiarize yourself with the resources out there to help you make educated decisions when selecting and wearing a respirator. There are many types of respirators and they all have their own function; it can be almost mind-boggling. So today (9/5, get it?) we focus our attention on the N95 filtering facepiece respirator because so many workers across a wide range of industries depend on the N95 for protection when working in environments with hazardous airborne particles. So nurses, construction workers, emergency responders, painters, gardeners and everyone else required to join the N95 club, raise your respirator in the air in celebration because today we unite under the banner of respiratory protection for all!
OK, that got a little dramatic. But respiratory protection is important. It’s always best practice to eliminate hazards through engineering, or by removing the hazard altogether by substituting non-toxic alternatives; however, when respirators are necessary it’s a good idea for users to know more about them. So take some time today to explore the resources provided by NIOSH to improve your understanding of N95 respirators.
- What do they do?
- When should you wear one?
- How do you know your chosen respirator is approved?
These are all questions that can be answered on the NIOSH Trusted-Source page at knowits.niosh.gov. While you’re there, be sure to check out our list of approved filtering facepiece respirators. Dust off that box of N95s sitting on your shelf and specifically look for the approval number (also known as the TC Number), which will be located either on the box, the instructions, the respirator itself, or any combination of the three. (HINT: The number is going to start with TC – 84A -) Match that number with the make, model, and corresponding approval number on the list of approved respirators to be sure you are being properly protected by a NIOSH-approved respirator. If you can’t find your N95 on the list, you should look into what you are wearing because you could have accidentally purchased a counterfeit respirator. Just because the box says N95 on it, doesn’t necessarily mean that the mask you are wearing is NIOSH-approved.
We’ve heard all the excuses before…
But, you wear a surgical mask regardless of the situation because it is pretty much the same thing, isn’t it?
False! You can read the technical reasons of the “why” they are different pieces of protective equipment on our blog post N95 Respirators and Surgical Masks.
But, reading stuff about respirators puts you to sleep?
We have that base covered too. Grab a cup of coffee and put your feet on your desk as you enjoy this YouTube video covering the basics of donning, doffing, user seal checks, and fit testing courtesy of our friends over at OSHA.
But, NIOSH’s National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory web site is too hard to navigate!
OK, we admit it. There is just so much information we want to share with users about respirators, along with other personal protective equipment, our web site was bulging at the seams. With a little bit of elbow grease we were able to organize, polish, and pretty-up the face of all that information. Please, check out our new look!
While you’re celebrating N95 day in your own way, keep an eye on NIOSH social media. Expect tweets today every 95 minutes between 9 and 5. Know someone who wears an N95 respirator? Please, retweet us to pass the word along so we can all be confident that our respiratory protection is keeping us safe.
Jaclyn Krah, MA
Ms. Krah is a Health Communication Specialist in the NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory.