Mask or Respirator - What Do You Need?

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that individuals wear a mask to reduce the spread of the virus, while reserving respirators for medical workers. To make the correct selection, understand the difference between a mask and a respirator.

What is it? It’s a loose-fitting item that may be tied on an individual or has elastic bands to hold it in place. 

How’s it used? It may be composed of various material, such as cloth or fiber, allowing air flow around the material while reducing the ability for large particles from entering the breathing area. A mask does not require the wearer to pull air through the fabric. 

Who’s it for? Masks are recommended to be worn by anyone to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets and illness from the individual wearing the mask.

What is it? A respirator is a device that is attached to the individual with secure-fitting elastic bands or straps. It has a specific filtering material designed for the identified exposure.

How’s it used? It’s tight fitting and requires the individual to pull air through the filtering material, which may cause fatigue. 

Who’s it for? A respirator should only be worn by individuals who are working in a hazardous environment to ensure they have adequate protection. Those wearing respirators should be prepared and trained on how to properly wear them.

Check out the CDC’s infographic to help understand the difference between a face mask and a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health approved respirator. Please note that wearing either a mask or respirator is simply another layer of protection and not a substitute for the CDC’s recommendations for social distancing and frequent handwashing.

Our loss control service is advisory only. We assume no responsibility for management or control of customer loss control activities or for implementation of recommended corrective measures. These materials were gathered from trade services and public information. We have not tried to identify all exposures. We do not warrant that this information is consistent with Cincinnati underwriting guidelines or with any federal, state or local law, regulation or ordinance.

Find An Agency