Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Skip over global navigation links
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

SNS-held N95 Respirators


SNS undergoes a very thorough process for selecting items into inventory, including personal protective equipment (PPE) such as N95 respirators. Subject matter experts review items against federal guidelines and established performance standards to ensure accepted products will accommodate the greatest response needs during an emergency.

SNS-held N95 respirators include standard and surgical N95 respirators. In the United States, all N95 respirators used in occupational settings are approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and used in accordance with the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) standards.

A surgical N95 respirator is a NIOSH-approved N95 respirator that has also been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a surgical mask. Surgical N95 respirators (sometimes called medical respirators) are recommended only for use by healthcare providers who need protection from both airborne and fluid hazards, such as splashes or sprays. In times of shortage, only healthcare providers who are working in a sterile field or who may be exposed to high-velocity splashes, sprays, or splatters of blood or body fluids should be provided these respirators. Other healthcare providers can use standard N95 respirators. If surgical N95 respirators are not available, and there is a risk that the worker may be exposed to high velocity splashes, sprays, or splatters of blood or body fluids, then a face shield should be worn over the standard N95 respirator.

SNS currently holds several different models of standard and surgical N95 respirators. Due to high demand, it is often difficult to accommodate requests for specific models of N95s. If SNS does not have a specific model that is used as part of your facility’s fit test program, SNS will offer an alternative N95 respirator that wearers would need to be be fit-tested for in accordance with the OSHA standard (29 CFR 1910.134) and the Expanded Temporary Enforcement Guidance.

OSHA requires respirator fit testing to confirm the fit of any respirator that forms a tight seal on the wearer’s face before it is used in the workplace. This ensures that users are receiving the expected level of protection by minimizing any contaminant leakage into the facepiece.

See also:

  1. Approved Surgical N95 Respirators
  2. NIOSH-Approved Particulate Filtering Facepiece Respirators
  3. Surgical N95 vs. Standard N95 – Which to Consider?
  4. Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of N95 Respirators: COVID-19 | CDC

  • This page last reviewed: August 12, 2021