Personal protection equipment (PPE) like N95 respirators and surgical masks (facial masks) protect the user against airborne particles and liquid contamination. And inhalation exposure to particulate pollutants can be minimised using respiratory protective equipment (RPE) (dust, mist, and fume). Meanwhile, Centres for Disease Monitoring and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are in charge of respirator quality control. As such, disposable face masks in Australia are the second most used type of face mask after N95s.
Protective Gear: Surgical Mask
Disposable surgical masks provide a physical barrier between the wearer’s mouth and nose and the local environment’s possible pollutants while fitting loosely over the wearer’s nose and mouth. There are various thicknesses and abilities of surgical masks to protect healthcare workers from liquid contact. As such, a surgical mask may help prevent germs (viruses and bacteria) from getting into the mouth and nose by blocking big particle droplets, splashes, sprays, or spatter when worn correctly. But, surgical masks aren’t advised to prevent the spread of infectious illnesses spread via the air. And surgical masks are no longer used for anything other than fluid repellent protection against infection.
Compared to N95 respirators, surgical masks provide 8–12 times poorer protection against small particles (0.04–1.3 m). Hence, these masks should only be worn one time.
One of the disposable dace masks in Australia, the Disposable Filtering Half-Facepiece Respirators (DFHFRs) like the N95, are known as air-purifying respirators since they are disposable. NIOSH-approved, double-strapped, and properly labelled masks are required for use as certified filtering facepiece respirators. Meanwhile, the mark “N95” signifies that the respirator blocks at least 95% of the tiny (0.3 m) test particles when exposed to thorough testing. N95 masks contain an adjustable nose clip, nose foam (to absorb sweat), and headbands as crucial features for leak-proof fit and prevent fogging of eyeglasses. Besides, aluminium is used for the nose clip, polyurethane for the nose foam, polypropylene for the filter, and polyester is used for the cover.
N95s cost around 5$ in Australia, and the P2/P3 respirators are equal to NIOSH-approved N95 respirators under Australian standards.
N-95 Masks and Surgical Masks: Donning and Doffing
Putting on an N95 Face Mask
- Maintain good personal hygiene by washing your hands often.
- The front of the respirator should be contacting your inner hand while holding it with one hand. When not in use, place the metal nose piece towards the tips of your fingers. And make certain that the respirator’s top and bottom straps are not twisted or knotted when you wear them.
- Make sure you have a respirator and wear it as instructed by the manufacturer. And one hand should be used to secure the respirator.
- Place the straps over your brow with your free hand and secure them in place with your other hand. Also, it’s critical that the straps stay on the wearer’s head and not become twisted or overlapping.
- To begin, put the top strap of the respirator over your neck, right above your ears.
- Next, wrap the respirator’s bottom strap over your head just below the earlobes.
- A good seal around the nose region may be achieved by bending the metal nose piece with both hands’ fingers, beginning in the middle and moving outward on each side.
Disposing of an N95 Respirator
- Lift the mask over your head by grabbing the bottom strap.
- After that, grab the mask’s top strap and raise it over your head.
- Do not reuse or throw away the mask following policy practice.
- Practice good hygiene with your hands.
Putting on a Surgical Face Mask
- Don’t forget to cover your nose as you’re applying the mask to your face.
- Bring both top ties to the crown of your head and knot them together with a bow in the middle.
- Make a firm bow with your bottom ties at the nape of your neck.
- Push the pliable nose piece once the mask is secured to ensure a tight fit and strong seal. This will lessen the amount of blow-by on the mask’s top.
- When doing a security check, make sure to look at the ties, nosepiece, and quantity of air escaping from the mask’s top, bottom, and sides.
Taking Off Surgical Mask
- Remove the mask alone by manipulating the ties.
- The bottom knot should be untied before the top tie.
- Take off the mask and reveal your skin.