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SafeSource Direct Among Winners of NIOSH Phase 1 Respirator Fit Evaluation Challenge

SafeSource Direct Among Winners of NIOSH Phase 1 Respirator Fit Evaluation Challenge


Broussard, La. (July 18, 2023) – The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has selected SafeSource Direct, a leading manufacturer of premium American-made personal protective equipment (PPE), among the 20 winners for the first phase of the Respirator Fit Evaluation Challenge.

The Challenge is a three-phase, $350,000 competition aimed at improving respirator fit evaluation. It seeks practical solutions that deliver real-time information on filtering facepiece respirator fit.

“Respirators are crucial to protect workers and the public from various respiratory hazards, including airborne infectious agents and wildfire smoke,” said Maryann D’Alessandro, Ph.D., director of NIOSH’s National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory. “Many small or disadvantaged workplaces, however, lack the resources for fit testing, and workers at these underserved workplaces and the general public often wear respirators without knowing if they fit properly and provide the expected level of protection. The Challenge aims to address these issues by identifying practical solutions that deliver real-time information on respirator fit.”

SafeSource Direct was launched in 2021 to meet America's demand for high-quality, domestically manufactured PPE. Today, in its state-of-the-art facilities in Broussard, Louisiana, it manufactures chemo-rated nitrile gloves, Level 1 and 3 surgical ear loop and surgical tie masks, and standard three-ply procedure masks – all with FDA 510(k) clearance, among other PPE products

“We are immensely proud to be among the winners of the first phase of the Respirator Fit Evaluation Challenge. We’re excited to now move on to Phase 2 of the challenge, where we will prototype our solution,” said Justin Hollingsworth, CEO, SafeSource Direct. “This achievement exemplifies our dedication to making the highest quality PPE and driving positive change for the well-being of our nation."

The Phase 1 winners represent a diverse range of solution concepts. These include technologies such as Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), infrared imagery and thermal monitoring, fabric-based sensor networks, light sensing (LED), and an app that will combine AI with facial recognition. These technologies were incorporated into approaches that would deliver immediate evaluation and feedback to end users about the fit of filtering facepiece respirators during use.

In Phase 1 of the Challenge participants submitted 10-page concept papers outlining their ideas to improve respirator fit testing. From the submissions, NIOSH selected 20 winners and awarded each $5,000.

In Phase 2 of the Challenge the winners will design prototypes based on their initial submissions. During Phase 2, up to 10 teams will be chosen to receive a portion of the $100,000 Phase 2 prize purse to help them build pre-production prototypes for NIOSH evaluation during Phase 3.

To learn more about the Phase 1 Challenge winners, please visit the Challenge website.

This Challenge is a collaboration between NIOSH, Capital Consulting Corporation, and the NASA Tournament Lab.

NIOSH is the federal institute that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. For more information about NIOSH, visit


About SafeSource Direct

SafeSource Direct LLC is an American manufacturer of personal protective equipment (PPE) dedicated to keeping our nation’s healthcare and other essential workers safe on the job. At SafeSource Direct, success minded team-members use innovation and automation to provide high-quality American-made PPE at prices competitive with those of foreign suppliers. Headquartered in Lafayette Parish, La., SafeSource Direct operates a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant in Broussard as well as in neighboring St. Martin Parish. Positioned near the Mississippi River, rail lines, and interstate highways, it is well positioned to distribute PPE to the nation. To learn more about how SafeSource Direct is laying the groundwork for sustainability in the healthcare industry, visit