COVID-19 N95 Mask Storage Box

The outbreak of COVID-19 has led to a severe shortage of personal protective equipment, including N95 filtering facepiece respirators (N95 FFRs or N95 masks). Recognizing the critical need to address this shortage, the CDC established protocols for decontaminating and reusing N95 FFRs in areas where shortages exist.

As the leader of the design and engineering teams at the University of Minnesota, we received an urgent request for safe and scalable solutions to implement the CDC protocol for reusing masks during the peak of the pandemic. In response, I led a user research initiative to gain insight into the needs of healthcare professionals in terms of accessibility, space/environmental characteristics, and safety, given the demanding nature of their work and high patient and visitor traffic.

With this information, I designed and developed a storage box that addresses usability, stability, transportation logistics, and ease of assembly in the actual use environment. The storage box is specifically intended to facilitate safe storage, decontamination, and reuse of N95 masks, and is designed in accordance with CDC guidelines to ensure it meets the requirements of healthcare professionals. This storage box is a solution to the shortage of N95 masks and can extend the stockpile of N95 FFRs, ensuring that healthcare professionals have the necessary PPE to perform their duties safely and effectively. This storage box:

  • allows an organized and informed storage of five N95 masks based on the 1-5-2 protocol;
  • has a unique design of ventilation (bottom and sides) keeps the box moisture-free and prevents bacteria and mold/fungus development. The ventilation placement also prevents airborne respiratory droplets from entering the box;
  • has a wobble-free stacking feature that helps with organizing and saving the storage space;
  • has labels that are angled ergonomically to provide the best visibility and allow healthcare staff to write the date/shift/rotation;
  • ergonomic features to facilitate easy handling from a stack;
  • and, suitable for storage after ultraviolet germicidal irradiation.

Royalty free open source files and instructions are available for download here.

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