Respirator Certification – What Does N95 Really Mean?

Respiratory Protection

Selecting respirators appropriate for your workplace can be a daunting task. Respiratory protection program managers need to understand the airborne hazards in their facilities, determine the required assigned protection factor for a respirator, choose what type of respirator is needed (air-purifying or atmosphere-supplying, tight-fitting or loose-fitting) and make sure each employee’s respirator fits properly.

The term “N95 respirator” gets thrown around a lot because it is one of the most common types of respirators. In this post we’re going to take a look at what that term (and similar terms like R99 and P100) mean. Understanding these labels is important for both employers and employees because both need to know the respirators being used are sufficient for the hazards present.

NIOSH Certification Levels for Particulate Filtering Respirators

For a respiratory protection program to be OSHA compliant it must use respirators certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). NIOSH, a division of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), has 10 classes of approved particulate filtering respirators.

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