Respiratory Protection

Respirators—such as N95s—are an important layer of protection against infection. Respiratory hazards can include airborne contaminants, such as biological contaminants, dusts, mists, fumes, and gases.

SafeCare BC Resources

Mask vs. Respirator Infographic 

Surgical masks and respirators are different types of personal protective equipment. Healthcare workers wear surgical masks as part of their personal protective equipment; however, these are not respirators and are not certified as such. The decision to wear a mask versus a respirator should be based on a risk assessment of the specific work environment.

Respirator Protection Program and Policy Templates

The following respirator protection template resources were developed by
SafeCare BC, with input from its Technical Advisory committee, which is comprised of union, WorkSafeBC, and employer representatives.
  • Respiratory Protection Program Template: Use this template to customize your respirator protection program.
  • Respiratory Protection Policy Template: Use this template to customize your policies and procedures around a respiratory protection program.


N95 respirators are recommended by Health Canada for use by healthcare workers in contact with patients with infections that are transmitted from inhaling airborne droplets. It is important to understand the benefits and limitations of each type of respirator.
Respirators must be fitted to the face appropriately for a good seal to be effective. Fit testing staff is a leading practice, and supported by occupational health and safety requirements, as it allows staff to use respirators when hazards or outbreaks occur. All staff who provide care to residents should be fit tested in case a risk assessment determines that a fit tester is needed. For example, if there is an infectious disease outbreak, or a toxic spill. You may consider adding fit testing to your regular orientation process to help ensure that our organization is prepared, in the case that it is needed.

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