What Mask Types Should Essential Workers Wear? Top 3 Masks Types

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Business owners are implementing strategies to protect workers and clients from the Covid-19 pandemic. While most of the world’s population is currently wearing face masks to protect themselves from the virus, there are different masks that offer different degrees of protection. Certain masks are better at preventing the spread of the virus – this guide will break down the top 3 face mask types for essential workers.

 All healthcare, food production, law enforcement, and other essential workers can protect themselves using the masks below. According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), there are only 3 effective mask types that workers should wear. There are major differences between the materials and the protection levels each mask offers.

Top 3 Mask Types: Respirators, Surgical & Home-Made

The following is a ranking of the 3 types based on effectiveness:

1) Respirator Masks. Respirators are the most effective masks for preventing the spread of a virus or any harmful particle – they’re also used for protection against air pollution. Respirator masks filter air and prevent people from inhaling dangerous substances. That’s because, when the air flows in, the filtration system of the mask traps harmful particles – allowing wearers to breathe in clean air.

This is why the masks are called “respirators”. Masks such as N95 and DittoMask are respirator masks, and they can be used by regular citizens and healthcare workers. OHSA standards mandate respirator masks for all healthcare professionals, and recommend it for the highest degree of protection.

2) Surgical Masks. Surgical masks, the most common masks people associate with PPE, are the most wide-spread popular masks. They provide basic protection against harmful particles by containing virus particles from leaking outside when an infected person coughs. These masks can also trap the virus particles on the surface of the mask which protects the wearer.

The downside is that they’re only single-use (as the virus can remain on the surface of the cloth) and they don’t seal the person’s mouth/nose as close as respirator masks do. Surgical masks are suitable for medium-risk professions. There is also a third category of masks which is surging in popularity currently as masks become part of everyday life for citizens.

3) Home-Made/Creative Masks. DYI/home masks are a whole category that provides varying degrees of protection. They tend to be the least effective as they’re made from regular cloth or improvised materials at home. Even a scarf could qualify as a mask and it’s generally less effective than a surgical mask.

There are some improvised masks such as “anti-dust” masks that provide a slightly higher degree of prevention than surgical masks, because they offer a better fit around the face and they’re comfortable for longer wear. However, these masks will almost never be used in a professional healthcare setting, unlike respirators and surgical masks.


There are certain rules and regulations imposed by OSHA for respirators that do not apply to improvised home masks. Knowing about the mask type you’re purchasing for your employees can help you make a better decision and have a serious impact on the health of your workplace.

While OSHA tightened regulations for respirators at the start of the pandemic, they have since been relaxed, and many new respirator masks are making their way into the industry. For instance, certain masks provide similar performance to the staple N95 respirator mask but come in a more stylish package. One such example is DittoMask – the ultimate among respirators for the workplace.