As I have been walking around in public during the current COVID-19 circumstances, I have noticed a few things. Many people are wearing the wrong masks or wearing them incorrectly.
I thought I would take a moment to share some information, as the staff at SCOPE have been fit testing individuals for N95 masks for years.
Filtering Face Piece Respirators (FFR)
Filtering face piece respirators (FFR), which are sometimes called disposable respirators, are subject to various regulatory standards around the world. These standards specify specific required physical properties and performance characteristics for respirators to claim compliance with the particular standard.
This is why it is important not to improvise your personal protective equipment (PPE). You need the right tool for the right job.
During pandemic or emergency situations, health authorities often reference these standards when making respirator recommendations, stating, for example, that certain populations should use an “N95, FFP2, or equivalent” respirator.
This document is only intended to help clarify some key similarities between such references, specifically to the following FFR performance standards:
- N95 (United States NIOSH-42CFR84)
- FFP2 (Europe EN 149-2001)
- KN95 (China GB626-2006)
- P2 (Australia/New Zealand AS/NZA 1716:2012)
- Korea 1st class (Korea KMOEL – 2017-64)
- DS (Japan JMHLW-Notification 214, 2018)
At SCOPE Safety & Security, we source reliable masks in a variety of classifications and dimensions to meet CSA Z94.4.
Disposable respirators are not a ‘one size fits all’. We have gained a vast amount of experience in regards to respirator masks as we have been Fit Testing for the security and protection industry for many years, specifically in healthcare and highly contagious environments.
An N95 respirator is a respiratory protective device designed to achieve a very close facial fit and very efficient filtration of airborne particles.
The ‘N95’ designation means that when subjected to careful testing, the respirator blocks at least 95 per cent of very small (0.3 micron) test particles.
In simple terms: the ‘N’ stands for No Oil Environment and ’95’ is to show that it filters out 95% of particles that are 0.3 microns or larger.
You may also see masks that say N90 and N99, the same information applies.
If properly fitted, the filtration capabilities of N95 respirators exceed those of face masks. However, even a properly fitted N95 respirator does not entirely eliminate the risk of illness or death.
A surgical mask is a loose-fitting, disposable device that creates a physical barrier between the mouth and nose of the wearer and potential contaminants in the immediate environment. These are often referred to as face masks, although not all face masks are regulated as surgical masks. Note that the edges of the mask are not designed to form a seal around the nose and mouth.
Sizing and Fit.
If you are sourcing for staff and teams, it is recommending ordering a selection of sizes as each face is a little bit different. As Respirator masks are disposable, you would want to focus on your core sizes based on your staff size and approximate dimensions. Please talk with one of our staff to better help you with quantity and size if you are not familiar.
CSA Z94.4 states that tight-fitting respirators are not permitted to be worn by employees who have facial hair that comes between the sealing surface of the face piece and the face or that interferes with the valve function.
Any condition that interferes with the face-to-respirator face seal or valve function is also addressed in this standard.
CSA’s intent is stated in Z94.4 and implies that the worker needs to be clean-shaven in the face seal area. It also implies that the worker needs to have been clean-shaven in the faceseal area within the last 24 hours prior to the fit test.
Other listed conditions that can interfere with the face seal includes:
- facial scars;
- headgear that projects under the face piece seal; or
- anything else that interferes with the seal between the respirator and the face
CSA Standard Z94.4 prohibits fit testing employees if there is any hair growth between the skin and face piece sealing surface, such as stubble beard growth, beard, moustache, or sideburns which cross the respirator sealing surface.
Respirators help reduce exposures to certain airborne contaminants. Before use, the wearer must read and understand the User Instructions provided as a part of the product packaging.
It is always a good idea to take your safety seriously, but you want to make sure you are using the correct equipment for the correct purpose. Improvising increasing risk to yourself and others.