The British public has certainly got creative when it comes to responding to the countrywide mask mandate for COVID-19. There have been social media posts about how to use socks for DIY versions, as well as colourful ways to stay ahead of the virus control AND fashion! There are however some more serious considerations, so we help you decide what is the best mask for you and your staff in our latest blog.
Better masks: facing up to proper infection control
In these trying times, having your whole team wearing a quality mask that offers significant protection demonstrates to them – and your customers – that you care about your staff and your organisation.
We are starting to see governments and organisations spend more time on selecting the type of mask worn, and it will be important to be aware of this, to ensure you are making the best possible decisions when considering how best to equip your teams.
Masks are likely to be in use indoors and on public transport throughout 2021. Consideration is now being given to making them a legal requirement outdoors too, as the big push to drive down infection rates accelerates. Germany and Austria have made medical-grade masks compulsory on public transport and in shops. These are made from non-woven fabric, which is better at stopping spray and droplets and is certified to a specific level of performance.
There is now a strong call for all medical staff to be issued with greater protection - FFP3 masks. FFP3 masks - are currently required in intensive care or when certain procedures are carried out that are known to generate aerosols. These masks provide the highest degree of protection. It is argued that FFP3 masks could be worn by more of the medical profession, because the virus is carried in what is called aerosols accumulating in the air, staff in intensive care units, who have the best level of protection, have about half the risk of catching the virus than colleagues on general wards. FFP3 masks would provide greater protection if worn in all medical settings.
Mask guidance in general
According to Government guidance, masks can be disposable paper ones or made of cloth but must fit securely around the side of the face – using ties or loops – covering both the nose and mouth.
Though the UK Government recommends they are made of at least two layers of fabric, mask guidance from the World Health Organisation is that three layers is better. There is an excellent video on this WHO webpage that explains the purpose of the three layers.
Fabric masks should be made of three layers of fabric:
- Inner layer of absorbent material, such as cotton.
- Middle layer of non-woven non-absorbent material, such as polypropylene.
- Outer layer of non-absorbent material, such as polyester or polyester blend. A material that will repel droplets.
These masks should also be easy to wash and dry in a normal laundry load, avoiding face irritation or people wearing dirty masks.
The different levels of protection - Standards and Filtering
At HeathBrook we have written a guide to face masks. There are many things to consider and often it is about the role of those working in your organisation. It is certainly essential to follow Government guidelines which looks at different professions.
It is also helpful to have a clearer understanding of some of the terminology and the difference between the wide selection of options available to you. FFP - the 'Filtering Face Piece' score comes from EN Standard 149:2001. The EN143 covers the P1/P2/P3 ratings, which refer to the filtering efficiency. So for FFP1 = (filter capacity removes x% of particles) at least 80% (note: Public Health England do not recommend FFP1 during the Covid-19 pandemic), FFP2 = at least 94% (N95 at least 95%), and FFP3 (and N99) at least 99%.
Here to help
We have a wide range of masks to meet a broad spectrum of needs and we are adding to the range all the time. To discuss your requirements with one of the team call us on 0118 931 3200 - we are here to help.