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OSHA Update: N95 Masks Protect Workers From COVID Virus

OSHA Update: N95 Masks Protect Workers from COVID Virus

Workers Mask

Rumors have been floating around for a while that N95 masks do not protect workers from the COVID virus. OSHA recently updated their frequently asked questions in regard to this issue.

OSHA states that research has shown that the filter in the N95 mask is very effective at protecting workers from the virus causing COVID-19. Information circulated during the pandemic stated that the COVID virus is 0.1 microns in size, and that an N95 respirator does not protect workers against such a small virus.

“When an infected person expels the virus into the air by activities like talking, coughing, or sneezing, the airborne particles are composed of more than just the virus,” OSHA explains in the recent FAQ update. “The virus is part of larger particles that are made up of water and other materials such as mucus. These larger particles are easily trapped and filtered out by N95 respirators because they are too big to pass through the filter. This is called mechanical filtration.”

However, the agency adds, “Mechanical filtration is just one of the ways that respirator filters keep particles from passing through the filter. An electrostatic charge also attracts particles to fibers in the filter, where the particles become stuck. In addition, the smallest particles constantly move around (called Brownian motion) and are very likely to hit a filter fiber and stick to it.”

The use of N95 respirators should be part of a company’s respiratory protection plan. Employers must ensure that masks are properly fitted for each employee, that workers receive training on their proper use and maintenance, and that the respirators are being used correctly.

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