Besides Labor Day, did you know there is another annual observance related to workers this week? Tomorrow, September 5th, is N95 Day, and you are invited to a particular party (actually on the eponymous 9/5 this year)! Archivists, librarians, and museum workers are no strangers to particulates, whether they are common allergens and irritants, such as dusts and molds, or more toxic substances, such as asbestos or heavy metals in paints and pesticides.
Last year I discovered the wonderful Labor Day adjacent "N95 Day, A NIOSH-Approved Observance" brought to us by our colleagues at the NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL). While the Smithsonian's health and safety professionals review individual staff's respirator fitness and use through a respiratory protection program, as a supervisor, I need to be up to date and clear on instruction and compliance in teams that I lead. This year, I found some cheerful tools that improve understanding and use of N95 masks, more accurately called Filtering Facepiece Respirators (FFRs).
If it has been a while since your certification and fit testing, NPPTL has refreshingly fun and free downloadable training infographics for posting in your workplace. The topics include: What are Air-Purifying Respirators? (including FFRs), and my new favorite, the extremely mustache-twirling: Facial Hairstyles and Filtering Facepiece Respirators which is a great icebreaker for introducing sensitive discussions about compliance. They also sponsor a blog about new research that answers frequently asked questions on special topics such as: use of FFR respirators during pregnancy, when to think beyond the N95 FFR (what can compromise or exceed the FFR's capabilities), and guidance regarding voluntary use for individuals facing respiratory hazards, such as air pollution from wildfire, indoor mold growth after a flood, and/or bacteria and viruses in your own reference and reading rooms (see also: the recent viral story about safety precautions for serving Shadows of the Walls of Death to readers and De Animalibus Insectus as examples of hidden hazards in collections.)
So how will you observe N95 Day? Why not sign up for NPPTL's free webinar tomorrow and join the conversation there? You can also follow the hashtag #N95Day on social media for educational products, quizzes, and more as they get particular about protection against particulates. It's sure to be a picnic!