The current size designations of small, medium, and large for respirators in product literature are not adequately informative for wearers and fit testers.

Recommendation 5-5: Develop Improved Descriptions of Face Mask Sizes.

NIOSH should encourage manufacturers to develop improved methods of describing facial sizes and shapes in product literature. For example, NIOSH and manufacturing companies should further explore the use of face panel images, and respirator containers should include corresponding pictures of small, medium, and large sizes, and long/narrow and small/wide face pictures.


The committee believes that a number of stakeholders may benefit from access to NIOSH’s revised face panel and the primary data that were used to develop the face panels. Special care is recommended to ensure that only good quality and reliable data is made accessible to stakeholders. In addition, guidelines to approve requests for use of the data need to be established to ensure good use of the data. They include the following:

  • Regulators. NIOSH for its certification program and OSHA in future revisions of respiratory protection standards

  • Respirator manufacturers. By introducing the design of newer face piece models that will better fit the needs of their customers

  • Respirator program administrators. By improving the selection and fit of respirators, and by fitting more of their employees

  • Respirator users (workers). By having a selection of facepieces that better fit the variety and sizes of their faces (especially those in the outlying areas of design)

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