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Face masks have become a part of people’s daily lives. For some, achieving maximum protection with an N95 respirator has become a necessity, due to health conditions or workplace requirements. Others are turning to industrial PPE due to the increased demand and limited supply of quality surgical masks. In order to be maximally effective, these protective devices must be carefully worn, correctly fitted, and well-maintained. Learn how to safely use your N95 mask.

MediDent Supplies is a trusted supplier of well-made, thoughtfully-sourced PPE.

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Choosing a NIOSH-approved N95 mask

To choose an appropriate N95 respirator, you must first ensure that you are using a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) approved filtering facepiece mask that is also FDA-authorized. You can search the NIOSH-approved equipment list to double check before purchasing here.

For an up-to-date guide to choosing PPE, see Five Factors to Consider When Choosing PPE in 2021 or speak with a MediDent Supplies Account Manager today to determine which N95 is right for your needs. MediDent Supplies account managers are industry professionals who have undertaken product training on the ins and outs of our products and current industry insights. Connect with an experienced rep today.

Safely using your N95 mask

The safest way to don your N95 mask is to follow these steps.

  1. Wash your hands.

If your mask is dirty, it can’t serve it purpose and protect you from contagions! Be sure to thoroughly wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water.

  1. Hold the mask with the colored or textured side away from you.

On some models it can be difficult to determine which side is the inside of a mask. The lighter-colored, softer side is usually the inward-facing part meant to come in contact with the face.

  1. Spread out the pleats or folds.

Most masks are folded for shipping. Be sure to expand your mask to its fullest extent before wearing it to achieve maximum coverage.

  1. Put the mask over your nose and your mouth.

If your nose is uncovered, wearing a mask is nearly pointless because you are still exposing yourself to unfiltered air in your environment. The mouth and nose must both be covered for proper usage.

  1. Pinch the nose piece to fit over the top of your nose snugly.

Adjust the nose piece, but do not close it too tightly or that may negatively affect the fit of the mask.

  1. Adjust the straps to fit comfortably around the ears or head.

If the mask is too tight, you can develop painful areas on the head and ears. Be sure that the mask fits snugly, but not too tightly.

For more information, please see the CDC’s How to Properly Put on and Take off a Disposable Respirator.

Fit testing

Ensuring a proper fit is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing PPE, and often one of the most overlooked.

Fit tests for respirators are designed to test the seal between the respirator and the wearer’s face. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), respirators must form a full seal to the face to provide expected protection. Administrators of fit tests do not need to be registered or certified with OSHA, they just need to know how to conduct a test and to ensure proper maintenance of the PPE. Learn more about OSHA fit test requirements here.

User seal checks

In addition to fit tests, employees should always check the seal on their respirators each time they put it on. Wearers can perform either a positive or negative pressure seal check.

For a guide to fit testing, see What are Fit Tests for Respirators?

MediDent Supplies account managers are industry professionals who have undertaken product training on the ins and outs of our products and current industry insights. Connect with an experienced rep today.

Browse NIOSH-Approved Surgical N95 Particulate Filtering Respirators.

PPE usage in the workplace

A hazard analysis is an important first step to assess risk in the workplace. A job hazard analysis can be conducted in any setting, but should be prioritized in workplaces with high rates of injury or illness or work that has the potential to cause a severe accident.

Base purchase decisions on a thorough risk assessment. Both the degree of protection required and the practicality of the PPE design for the setting must factor into this decision because both will contribute to its overall effectiveness.

Education and training should cover why the protection is important, fitting guidelines, any adjustments that can be made, and care for the items. Workers who will use the PPE regularly and others who might be exposed on an occasional basis should all attend the training.

Help keep your workplace safe by choosing MediDent Supplies, an FDA-registered medical device importer and trusted supplier of PPE for tens of thousands of customers. Browse our PPE Shop for great deals on trusted sources for masks, face shields, gloves, N95 respirators, and more.

For more resources, visit OSHA’s full guide to PPE.