Many feed manufacturing facilities may suddenly find it difficult to obtain N95 respirators (sometimes incorrectly referred to as N95 face masks) due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. N95 disposable respirators are commonly used in our industry to protect the health of employees handling hazardous materials. As the country is facing a temporary shortage of this personal protective equipment, there are several things that facility managers may want to think through concerning their facility’s respirator program.
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.