N95 and KN95 respirators are respirators that filter 95 per cent of aerosol particulates for the wearer. The province of Manitoba has recently recommended these kinds of respirators for protection against COVID-19, as they are more effective than non-medical or cloth masks in terms of fit and filtration.
NOTE: If used in a workplace, workplace safety and health legislation requires your employer to provide training on the proper fit, testing, maintenance, and use of the respirator in accordance with CSA-Z94-11 Selection, Use and Care of Respirators.
But these respirators must be worn correctly to work effectively. If the respirator doesn’t seal properly to the face, it won’t filter the air as is it intended to. Be sure to follow manufacturer instructions when using your N95 or KN95 respirator. Below are general guidelines to help you use these respirators effectively. These guidelines are also available as a PDF.
Before donning the N95 or KN95 respirator, it is important you verify that it is fit for use:
- Ensure the respirator is in good condition.
- Check the expiry date.
Once you’re ready to don your respirator, ensure your hands are clean and follow these steps:
- Hold the respirator in your hand, allowing the straps to hang freely.
- Position the respirator on your face with the nose piece at the top, pressed against your nose. The bottom of the respirator should cover your chin.
- If your respirator has short straps designed to be worn over the ear, hook these straps around your ears.
- If your respirator has long straps designed to be worn around the head, pull the top strap over your head so it rests high on the back of your head. Pull the bottom strap over your head so it fits around the neck and below your ears.
- Use two hands to press down on the nose piece so it fits snugly to your nose.
- The edges of the respirator should be flat against your skin.
Now that you have your respirator on, you need to check the fit:
- Place both hands over your respirator and exhale, being careful not to move it while you do so.
- If you feel air leaking around your nose, readjust the nosepiece for a better fit.
- If air leaks around the edge of the respirator, try readjusting the straps.
- If your respirator is still leaking, ask your supervisor for help.
When you would like to remove the respirator, ensure your hands are clean and hold the respirator in place while you remove the straps one at a time.
Each respirator should only be used once and should only be taken out of its packaging immediately before use. If the respirator is or becomes damaged, replace it with a new one.
Also note that facial hair, like beards and sideburns, will affect the seal of your respirator and could cause air leakage. For the most effective fit, the wearer should be clean shaven.
If you would like any additional resources or consultation for the hazards on YOUR jobsite, speak to a CSAM safety advisor. Call 204-775-3171 in Winnipeg or 204-728-3456 in Brandon.