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  • Respirators and surgical masks are two types

  • of personal protective equipment - or PPE

  • - that are used to protect workers in

  • healthcare settings. A surgical mask is not a

  • respirator, and that’s an important

  • distinction for you and your employer to

  • understand, so let’s review the significant

  • differences between a respirator and a

  • surgical mask.

  • What is a respirator? A respirator is a type

  • of personal protective equipment designed

  • to reduce your exposure to airborne

  • contaminants. Respirators are available in

  • different types and sizes, and the respirator

  • you use must be individually selected to fit

  • your face and to provide a tight seal. A

  • proper seal between your face and the

  • respirator forces inhaled air to be pulled

  • through the respirator’s filter material, and

  • not through gaps between your face

  • and the respirator.

  • If your supervisor requires you to use a

  • respirator, it must be NIOSH-certified and

  • must be used in the context of a

  • comprehensive respiratory protection

  • program, according to OSHA’s Respiratory

  • Protection standard, 29 CFR 1910.134, which

  • includes but is not limited to medical

  • evaluation, fit testing, and training elements.

  • Respirators are used routinely to protect

  • healthcare workers against airborne

  • infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis,

  • anthrax, SARs, and Hantavirus because they

  • protect against both large and small particles.

  • What is a Facemask? A facemask is a loose-

  • fitting, disposable mask that covers your

  • nose and mouth. Surgical masks, dental

  • masks, medical procedure masks, isolation

  • masks and laser masks are all

  • types of facemasks.

  • Facemasks help stop large droplets from

  • being spread by the person wearing them,

  • whether that person is a patient or a

  • healthcare worker. Facemasks also keep

  • splashes or sprays from reaching the mouth

  • and nose of the person wearing them.

  • However, facemasks are not designed or

  • certified to seal tightly against your face or

  • to prevent the inhalation of

  • small airborne contaminants.

  • During inhalation, small airborne

  • contaminants pass through gaps between the

  • face and the facemask and the material of

  • the mask. Remember, facemasks are not

  • considered respirators and they do not

  • provide respiratory protection.

  • Only facemasks that are cleared by the U.S.

  • Food and Drug Administration, the FDA for

  • short, may be legally marketed in the United

  • States. The FDA approval signifies that

  • they have been tested for their ability to

  • resist splashes of blood

  • and other body fluids.

  • To offer protection, both facemasks and

  • respirators need to be worn correctly and

  • consistently throughout the time that they

  • are being used. When used properly,

  • facemasks and respirators both play an

  • important role in preventing exposures to

  • different types of hazards.

  • If you need the protection of both a

  • facemask and a respirator, you can use a

  • surgical N95 respirator. Surgical N95

  • respirators offer protection from both

  • airborne and body fluid contaminants and

  • are approved by both NIOSH and FDA.

  • During an infectious disease outbreak, such

  • as SARs or pandemic flu, facemasks and

  • respirators should be used in conjunction

  • with other controls and interventions that are

  • known to prevent the spread of infection.

  • These include engineering and

  • administrative controls, such as installing

  • sneeze guards and permitting teleworking,

  • and work practices, such as cough etiquette,

  • hand hygiene, and avoiding large gatherings.

Respirators and surgical masks are two types

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C1 respirator surgical airborne protection mask respiratory

The Difference Between Respirators and Surgical Masks

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    kuoyumei posted on 2014/05/08
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