April 8, 2021

Union, OSHA Raise Awareness of Counterfeit Respirators in Healthcare

A new guide created by the Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE) union is intended to help health workers identify counterfeit N95 respirators. The guide was publicized in the latest issue of OSHA’s e-newsletter, QuickTakes. According to HPAE, counterfeit N95s made to look like the teal-colored, cup-shaped N95 respirator models manufactured by 3M are being distributed in healthcare facilities. The union’s guide provides information for health workers about how to determine if a respirator is fake and what to do if they suspect a respirator is counterfeit. The document also includes visual examples of counterfeit respirators.

High demand for respirators in healthcare facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to what CDC calls an “unprecedented” number of counterfeit or deficient respirators on the market. One common problem noted by the agency is the alteration of documents intended to falsely suggest a respirator meets a particular performance standard. In addition, many devices have counterfeit certification marks or manufacturers’ names, logos, and model numbers.

Respirator users, purchasers, and manufacturers can find listings of counterfeit respirators and those that misrepresent NIOSH approval on NIOSH’s National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory website. NPPTL posts photos and explanations of counterfeit respirators as it becomes aware of them on the market. Safety managers, industrial hygienists, and others should use NIOSH’s certified equipment list to determine whether respirators they are currently using or considering using are NIOSH-certified.