What is an N-95 Mask? (Also called an N-95 Respirator)
N-95 masks meet legislative requirements and standards to protect the wearer from specific hazards (airborne) in the workplace. It is approved by NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health). The "N" stands for non resistant to oil and the "95" stands for the filters efficiency when correctly worn. These types of respirators are disposable and come in various sizes and shapes.
What is N-95 Mask Testing?
A test that is completed to insure that the appropriate N-95 mask is being worn by the employee. One size does not fit all.
There are two ways to complete N-95 Mask Testing:
- Qualitative fit test is a pass/fail test that relies on the employee's response to a test agent. The OSHA protocols include saccharin, isoamyl acetate (banana oil), Bitrex and irritant smoke.
- Quantitative fit test measures the adequacy of a respirator's fit by numerically measuring the amount of leakage into the respirator.
Health P.E.I. uses the Quantitative method using a specialized PortaCount machine, which is a C.S.A. approved. It is a highly accurate and efficient method of fit testing and can only be conducted by trained technicians.
What types of situations would require a N-95 Respirator to be worn?
Generally situations where there is airborne illness:
- S.A.R.S. (severe acute respiratory syndrome)
- Chicken Pox (Varicella)
Other applications are for environments where there is dust, fumes or other airborne particulate that can interfere with your respiratory system:
- Chemotherapy spill
Are all employees fitted for N-95 masks?
Only staff who potentially work in an environment requiring an N95 mask need to be tested.
- employees who provide direct patient care to a patient with tuberculosis or
- any staff who may need to perform a safe work procedure requiring an N95 mask, such as cleaning up a chemotherapy spill.
Priorities for N-95 fit testing are identified by an advisory committee which includes Human Resources, OH&S, and Infection Control. If you have been asked to work in a situation that may require an N95 mask to work safely, speak with your supervisor or and Occupational Health and Safety Officer to discuss before performing the work.
Health P.E.I. provides mask testing to over 3500 employees .
What if I have facial hair?
Employee’s must be clean shaven where the respirator meets the face. Goatee’s and moustaches are usually okay, as long as they fit inside the edges of the mask and do not interfere with the seal of the respirator.
The tester will evaluate this on a case to case basis. (After you are fit tested, you may grow/re-grow your facial hair.
Note: if you need to wear the N-95, you will need to shave in advance to ensure the mask forms a proper seal for your safety.
Can I eat or drink prior to the test?
Yes, you can eat or drink for quantitative method of testing.
You must not smoke for a minimum of 30 minutes prior to the test.
What happens if I can't complete N-95 Mask Testing?
The fit tester will discuss options with you and you will need to notify your manager or supervisor why testing could not be completed. If there is a health concern, written documentation from your doctor needs to be submitted with your ability/inability to be fitted. If testing could not be completed due to not being able to achieve a good seal with an N95, other options may need to be explored. The fit tester will work with you to resolve the issue.
How long are my Mask Testing Results valid?
N-95 Mask Testing is to be completed every two years. If you have had a significant change in your face (changes in weight, major dental or facial surgery) you need to request a re-fit sooner.
I did not lose or gain weight, do I need a re-test every 2 years?
Yes, Health P.E.I. needs to be in compliance with the Occupational Health & Safety Act of Prince Edward Island, the Canadian Standards Association and the Canadian Tuberculosis Standards and testing is to be completed at least every 2 years.
How do I know if my N-95 mask is on correctly prior to entering the situation?
**The most important part is making sure your N-95 mask is on correctly.
A Fit check: is to be performed every time the respirator is worn.
- Negative fit check: Cup hands over respirator without excessive pressure. Breathe in sharply. A light collapse of the respirator should be felt with no air leaking in around the face to-face piece seal.
+ Positive fit check: Cup hands over respirator. Blow out. A built-up of air should be felt with no air leaking our around the face-to-face piece seal.
How long can you wear a N-95 mask?
There is no fixed expiry on N-95 masks. It is recommended that respirators be changed if they become wet, interfere with breathing, are damaged or visibly soiled.
How do I dispose of my N-95 respirator?
- Use Hand Hygiene prior to handling the respirator
- Carefully remove the straps of the respirator without touching the front
- Use Hand Hygiene after handling the respirator
How will I remember what my N-95 mask number and size is?
Once testing is completed a sticker will be placed on the back of your ID badge with your N95 mask number, size and due date. Stickers are also color coded. Reports are sent to your manager/supervisor which document your results.
I am allergic to Latex, can I proceed with the fit test?
Yes, all products are Latex free
How do I make an appointment?
Queen Elizabeth Hospital
Telephone: (902) 315-0584 (N-95 Tester) or (902) 894-2565 (Testing Room)
Sign up sheets: located on door beside the employee health office which is located on the lower level of QEH, heading towards staff locker rooms you will see hallway on left with paper on door pointing you down hall, last door on left down this hall.
Prince County Hospital
Telephone: (902) 438-4487 (Employee Health Office)
Where does testing take place?
QEH: N-95 testing is conducted on the lower level of the QEH. Head towards the staff locker rooms and you will see hallway on left with paper on door pointing you down the hall. Testing is held in the last door on left down hall, in the room beside employee health office.
**When N95 mask testing takes place at other facilities, a room is assigned. (Location sometimes changes)
How long will the test take?
The process will take approximately 15 minutes, but each individual should be prepared to be with tester for up to 20 minutes.
What happens if I miss my Mask Fit Testing Appointment?
Health P.E.I. makes all attempts to accommodate people for their mask fit testing requirements. By not showing up for your appointment, you are reducing another person’s chance to get fit tested on that particular date. If you need to miss your mask fit testing appointment, please contact the Fit Tester at N95appointment@ihis.org or call (902)315-0584 as soon as you can.