The recent unprecedented demand for face masks has led to a vast range of alternative masks being imported and manufactured - so now it’s become a question what’s what, and what is right for me.
The different types have differing certification or none, so it’s important to spend a bit of time deciding what will work best for you. Face masks for sale in the market places of Ebay, Amazon, or Google shopping may not necessarily have the right certification for the workplace.
Currently there are no statutory requirements for face masks for personal use (e.g. when out and about in parks or shopping). The below is a brief overview of each type of face mask.
- Surgical Masks
- Dust Masks FFP3, FFP2, FFP1, (or Respirators N95)
- Reusable, Washable, Face Masks (or Barrier Masks)
- Homemade Masks
These are disposable masks generally in blue or green, they pull out to fit loosely over the nose, mouth & chin with loops over the ears. They are designed for regular replacement and to protect from germs, splashes, and airborne substances.
Currently these are in short supply and, are in many cases, being reserved for NHS workers and those in care situations.
Dust Masks FFP3, FFP2, FFP1, (or Respirators N95)
These are a fitted mask that clings closely around nose and mouth, often fitted with a valve to allow breathing out, they filter the air as you breathe in and will hold out unwanted particles. FFP3 is the most effective filter and they reduce down with other filter options FFP2 and FFP1.
These masks are very important to the NHS at the moment and are being reserved for front line workers.
Reusable, Washable, Face Masks (or Barrier Masks)
These masks have been manufactured in answer to the global shortages of the regular surgical and dust masks. They are primarily for healthy people or the general public to wear to afford a protective barrier and a level of confidence. Made from polyester, machine washable and fully reusable.
At time of publishing it is not mandatory to wear a mask in public, but many have chosen to as a precautionary measure. This is a good solution as people would only need two or three each rather than a new one each day.
The purchase of these masks does not interfere with the NHS supplies. Whilst they are not “certified” they do filter the air as they are manufactured in 3 layers - not merely a cloth face covering. As with any facial protection there is no official guarantee that they save the wearer from contacting a virus.
Being reusable they save waste and are a sustainable option for those concerned to have some level of protection.
These can be produced using old clothing or spare material, using patterns online, most likely from just one layer of fabric. The pattern and quality of manufacture will vary as there is nothing to stop you making your own!
The above is only a guide to help you make a decision to help protect you and your team.
The WHO (World Health Organisation) offers further information for the general public on when and how to wear face masks. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks
The CDC (Centre for Disease Control) in the US has issued a “Strategy for optimizing the supply of face masks”, which could well be mirrored by the UK Government in the event of mask becoming an essential item for wearing out https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/ppe-strategy/face-masks.html
Kudos Giftwrap have sourced a 3-ply barrier mask, whilst not “certified” it is reusable and protects vital NHS supplies. Available in UK stock they have two elastic loops for round the back of the head, avoiding strain on the ears, and can be worn comfortably for long shifts.
We believe face masks should give our customers the confidence to return to customer facing roles and aid in reducing the spread of any airborne bacteria. They can be worn alongside our face visors that offer a solid clear view barrier in front of the face. Nobody could have prepared for this virus; the Government is releasing the lock down step by step with a close eye on the infection rate. The most effective way to contain it will be to follow the Government advice as they restart the retail economy. Anything we can do, including social distancing and putting in place good hygiene measures, will help to reduce the spread of the virus, at the same time as re-opening stores and returning to our new normal.
We trust that the above guide proves helpful information in selecting the right kind of face mask for your specific requirements, and helps you avoid the potential pitfalls.