Updated: March 29, 2023
An N95 is a high-efficiency respirator that must fit tightly to work properly. Yale typically allocates these masks to researchers and healthcare workers who use them in compliance with the OSHA standard as they require higher levels of protection based on their responsibilities and exposure potential. Order requests are routed through EHS for approval to ensure appropriate respirators are purchased and the required training, fit-testing, and medical clearance is completed, if necessary.
Effective January 14, 2022, approvals for N95 respirators for voluntary use by faculty and staff has been expanded with consideration for their workplace roles and responsibilities. Those requesting the voluntary use of an N95 respirator must meet all requirements listed under Voluntary Use of N95 Respirators below.
Requests for N95 respirators should be made through the COVID Stockroom in SciQuest (instructions). These masks require a departmental Chart of Account (COA) to be used. If you cannot access the COVID Stockroom in SciQuest, please work with your Lead Administrator or Business Operations Manager.
The quality of masks available from the university, through your residential college, school, or business office, has been evaluated by Environmental Health and Safety. However, many masks ordered through commercial venues vary in quality, even when they are labeled with familiar terms such as “KN95.” Recent media posts include guidelines that may help you avoid counterfeit masks and select masks that provide better protection.
Voluntary Use of N95 Respirators
Please note: Not everyone requesting an N95 respirator for voluntary use will be approved by EHS. The person placing the order request will be notified of the request status through a message in Workday.
Below are some examples of when an N95 respirator for voluntary use may be approved:
- Work requiring close proximity to others for extended periods of time.
- Facing/servicing large numbers of people per day.
- Human subjects research (non-clinical/medical environment and/or COVID-negative subjects)
- Contact with unmasked persons (e.g., daycares)
- Entering/working in areas of higher risk (e.g., clinical, symptomatic testing sites, isolation housing, etc.).
- Due to medical reasons (immunocompromised, etc.).
Those requesting the voluntary use of an N95 respirator must meet the following requirements:
If you work in a non medical/clinical setting:
- Review the Voluntary Use of Respirators Training Sheet and complete the attestation.
- Request N95 respirators through the COVID Stockroom in SciQuest (instructions).
- Fit-testing and medical clearance are not required.
- Use any non-medical N95, which are approved for voluntary use .
If you work in a medical/clinical setting (includes COVID-19 testing sites):
- Review the Safe Use of Respirators Under the OSHA COVID-19 ETS Training Sheet and complete the quiz.
- Request N95 respirators from your respective medical center or clinic.
- Fit-testing and medical clearance not required
- Use any N95 for voluntary use. A recommendation for an appropriate N95 will be made based your reason for request.
Please see below for information on when N95 respirators are required based on environment, role, and responsibilities, as well as any training requirements:
Required Use of N95 Respirators in Medical/Clinical Environments
Required for healthcare workers who:
- Have contact with COVID-positive patients.
- Perform evaluations or tests within 6 feet of unmasked patients.
- Perform (or are present for) aerosol-generating procedures.
- Enter airborne isolation rooms/bays.
Required for human subjects workers who:
- Work in a clinical or medical environment where there is a higher-than-normal possibility of encountering a COVID-positive patient/subject (e.g., emergency room).
- Work directly with COVID-positive research subjects.
- Training, fit-testing, and medical clearance. Training and fit-testing are required annually.
- Approved N95 models include 3M 1860, 3M 1860s, and 3M 1870+. Other models may be approved to be worn in these settings on a case-by-case basis.
- Order N95 respirators from your respective medical center or clinic.
Required Use of N95 Respirators in Non-Medical/Non-Clinical Environments
- Custodial Services personnel who are cleaning and/or disinfecting rooms that had been occupied by a COVID-positive person within the previous 24 hours.
- Researchers propagating SARS-CoV-2, or high-risk specimens such as unfixed lung samples, in lab and animal experiments.
- Emergency responders entering an area which is/had been occupied by a COVID-positive person within the previous 24 hours.