With cities and provinces across Canada requiring masks in public places, disposable masks, medical masks and N95 respirators are in high demand. But, did you know that HOW they’re worn makes all the difference?
There’s more to wearing a mask than simply putting it on. Learn how to properly don a disposable mask and get the information you need on using N95 masks to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other harmful pathogens.
How to Put on a Disposable Mask
Follow the steps below when putting on a disposable mask to help ensure the best fit.
- Wash hands! (Or use hand sanitizer.)
- Inspect the mask for holes or other damage
- Place the mask over nose, mouth and chin – ensuring that the metal strip goes over the nose and that the blue side of the mask is facing out before putting the straps over ears
- Pinch the metal strip to mold to the shape of nose
Remember, don’t touch the front of your mask during use to avoid contamination.
N95 masks: Let’s start with the basics…
N95 masks are commonly referenced when talking about masks in general. In fact, there are a wide variety of face masks. An N95 mask, or respirator, is certified to filter out at least 95% of airborne particles. They can be used in a variety of workplaces and are currently in high demand to protect healthcare workers who may come in contact with COVID-19.
What is a fit test?
It’s one thing to put on a mask – quite another to ensure it fits properly. Skipping a proper fit test can compromise the effectiveness of the mask, and that’s a serious safety concern.
Fit testing is done to ensure that the respirator seals tightly to the user’s face, ensuring that air is only flowing through the filter – and not leaking in through the sides – to protect the wearer. This includes selecting a mask that is the right size and shape so that it fits snugly.
How to Properly Don an N95 Mask
To get the best seal possible, it’s essential to ensure that users are donning their masks correctly.
- Wash hands!
- Place the respirator over the nose and under the chin, putting straps behind ears or head, depending on the style
- Use both hands to mold the nose clip firmly against nose and face
- Conduct a fit test (see below)
How to Conduct a Fit Test
Unfortunately, due to the limited supply of respirators currently available, it may not be possible for employees to undergo fit testing from a product specialist, but employees can conduct their own fit testing by doing a positive or negative-pressure seal check:
- Positive-pressure check: use hands to block the respirator filter and try to breathe out. The test is successful if slight pressure builds up, meaning that air isn’t leaking around the edges
- Negative-pressure check: use the same method, but try to breathe in. If no air enters, this means the seal around the edges is secure
As more N95 masks become available, it will be critical to ensure workers understand how to properly wear and test this important device. If you have questions or need assistance with on-site or virtual fit testing demonstrations for your team, contact your Bunzl Safety representative – we’re here to help!