dust mask

Frequently Asked Questions About Disposable Dust Masks or Respirator Masks

Frequently Asked Questions About Disposable Dust Masks or Respirator Masks. Perfect fit, efficient protection and proper evaluation of masks. Some of the basic keys in keeping your employees protected. From the harmful effects of fumes and dust around the workplace. A lot of people do not know this. As a result, the facts get all mixed up sometimes and the users tend to become confused about what to do and what not to do.

Over the years, questions about disposable dust facemasks and respirators have been raised. To clarify all the confusion. To answer some of it, here are some commonly asked questions about dust or respirator masks:

  • What are respirator masks?

A respirator mask is a protective facepiece that can help shield users from hazardous particulates. The N95 facemask is a kind of respirator that can provide protection against 95% of airborne particulates down to 0.3. However, these masks cannot protect against gases and smokes. They can provide protection against the particles carried by smokes produced by a wildfire.

  • How do you know which masks are approved and unapproved?

Since masks come in various types. Some masks may be mistaken as approved when in fact, they aren’t. There is, however, a way of knowing for sure. An approved dust or respirator mask is usually has a “NIOSH Approved” stamp on it. The N95, N99, and N100 dust masks are examples of approved disposable respirator masks.

  • Do I need a fit test?

Employers are required to do a fit testing for the approved masks that their employees are going to use. This is to make sure that a particular respirator will provide a perfect fit and seal to your face. It’s also important to remember that when you’re fit testing. It’s necessary to do it when you don’t have a full facial beard since it can have an effect on the sealing on your face.

Fit testing should also be repeated after two years, according to OSHA’s standards or when a user went through a significant change his or her face shape that may be due to weight loss/gain or broken bones.

  • What do I need to do before fit testing?

Before fit testing, the users are advised to do the following:

  • Not to consume or chew anything (including gum) 20 minutes before fit testing except for water.

  • Shave beard (if there are any) to ensure a perfect seal on the face.

  • When should dust and respirators be changed?

The obvious indication that your respirator is worn out is when it’s damaged and it suddenly does not provide an effective seal on the face. Another indication is when it becomes visibly dirty or when it becomes wet and contaminated with bodily secretions and fluid (i.e. blood, nasal secretions). It’s also important to make sure that you can still properly breathe through the mask, if not, then you might need to dispose of it. A shorter and easier way to remember when your respirators need replacing is through the 3 D’s: Dirty, Damaged, and Difficult to breathe through.

Ensuring a safe workplace for you and your employees is one way of increasing your productivity. Which is why dust masks are an important piece of protective equipment to have especially if you’re constantly exposed to a variety of dust and other airborne particles. Having a NIOSH Pocket Guide ready at hand can also be helpful so you can be informed of the extent to which your mask can provide protection.