Can’t Find N95 Respirators: Now What Do I Do?

Concern about COVID-19 has been growing and rapidly changing over the past few weeks in Canada. we looked at this health risk through the lens of how it will affect first responders, healthcare workers and medical personnel.

As it stands, there is a global shortage of N95 masks. News broke in Ontario that the province stockpiled huge face mask since the SARS epidemic of 2002, which are now expired. This demands the question “can I still use an expired N95 mask?”

Are your employees using N95 disposable respirators only with essential tasks handling hazardous materials?

If you review the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for the hazardous material your employees are handling and see in Section 8 (Exposure Controls/Personal Protection) a statement such as: “Minimum NIOSH approved N95 filter type dust respirators until engineering controls are implemented,” then you are required to provide a minimum of a N95-type respirator unless appropriate engineering controls are in place. Choosing the proper respirator is essential for preventing exposure to harmful contaminants in hazardous materials. N95 respirators have two straps and form a tight seal to the face.

If your facility is having immediate difficulties sourcing N95 respirators for handling hazardous material due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, contact the state authorities for where your facility is located and inform the agency of your need.

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