FAQs

We understand that there is a lot of information currently being circulated from many different sources, and it may be difficult to find the information you need to make the best decision for you, your staff and/or your customers. Here below is a list of questions that both we ourselves, and our clients have asked, with which we hope to answer the most common queries. Should you not find the answer you need however, please don't hesitate to contact us on info@masksandppe.co.uk and we will endeavour to assist as best we can.

Please note that guidelines are changing rapidly, therefore it is advisable to keep checking back to see if anything has changed which may impact your situation.

The FAQs have been grouped into different sections to better help you pinpoint your topic. The sections run as follows:

  1. Masks & Respirators
  2. PPE
  3. Certification & Testing


Masks & Respirators

1. Why should you wear a mask or respirator?

The UK Government says that people should aim to wear face coverings on public transport, in some shops and "in other enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible and they come into contact with others that they do not normally meet".

The main benefit of wearing a mask or respirator is that it helps prevent you from getting ill and therefore helps keep you and your loved ones healthy, safe and working or active. Specifically, it helps prevent the development of illnesses which could affect your airways, and ultimately, the quality and length of your life. Wearing a mask can stop you from developing the symptoms of respiratory illness caused by inhalation of infected particles or hazardous substances (for example, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness or difficulty in breathing). We cannot see these particles with the naked eye.

2. How do you best use and put a mask on?

    As instructed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), we have included here below the WHOs guidelines on how to best put on and dispose of your disposable face mask. Click here to go to our blog which includes handy illustrated instructions, and can be printed out/shared throughout your own organisation for effective COVID-19 corona-virus communication.

      • Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
      • Cover mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
      • Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
      • Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks.
      • To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

    2. Can you wash a face mask?

    Do not wash and re-use single use face masks, these are intended for disposal. Replace this kind of mask with a new one as soon as it is damp or soiled.

    Home-made cloth masks can be machine or hand-washed, preferably at a high temperature such as 60 degrees Celsuis, and you should use a heavy-duty common detergent as soon as possible after each use. Boiling for 10+ minutes in clean water is also an option. These actions can help as a means of source control.

    Respirator masks are currently not washable.

    3. Can children wear face masks?

    Yes, children can wear face masks. It is recommended that children wear appropriately sized masks for their smaller faces and features, which will ensure a closer fit with no gaps around the mask edge. Masks and PPE UK is in the process of sourcing a reliable face mask for children and will update our site as soon as we can.

    4. Can wearing a face mask protect you from Corona Virus?

    Face masks, respiratory face masks and respirators are aids that help protecting you against the COVID-19 virus (also now known as SARS-Cov-2) by reducing the likelihood of coming into contact with infected particles in the air. This is achieved by the masks' filtration systems, filtering these infected particles out as you breathe in/out. Remember that surgical-style, cloth masks are only designed to protect outgoing particles (breathing out), while respirators are designed to protect outgoing and  incoming particles (breathing in and out).

    Each type of mask will perform at differing rates of filtration depending on the type of mask/respirator. Please see our blog on the differences between various mask/respirator models for more information on filtration performance. 

    Face masks and respirators are not sufficient protection by themselves. You must also ensure to keep washing your hands regularly for 20+ seconds or using an antibacterial hand sanitising rub; keep your environment clean and airy and wash bed linen/towels/tea towels etc more often, as well as continuing to adhere to the 2+ metre (6+ feet) social distancing guidelines. You can also consider erecting physical ‘splash barriers’ between staff and customers.

    5. How long can you wear a face mask for?

    You can wear the mask continuously for as long as is comfortable. Manufacturer guidelines differs by product, with up to 3 hours being the average. You should remove the mask if:
      • The mask becomes uncomfortable
      • Breathing becomes difficult
      • The respirator is damaged or distorted
      • The respirator becomes obviously contaminated by respiratory secretions or other bodily fluids
      •        A proper face fit cannot be contained

    If you have a non-medical, cloth-style face mask - this is disposable and intended for 1 (one) single use only. Do not touch the front of the mask, as this can increase the chance of contamination. If you do touch the front of your mask, dispose of it and endeavour to replace with a new one. Always remove it from the back by the straps.

    Respiratory face masks and respirators can be worn multiple times, as long as they are kept clean and are not touched at the front. Always remove it from the back by the straps.

      6. I'm experiencing skin irritation from wearing masks/respirators, what can I do?

      Following NHS Occupational Health guidelines, please see the below on preventing facial skin damage:
      • Keep your skin clean and well hydrated / moisturised – apply creams at least 30 minutes beforehand
      • Consider use of a barrier skin wipe / skin protectant (and allow to dry thoroughly) if you are likely to be wearing masks/respirators for extended periods to reduce chance of moisture build-up. Check the barrier product does not build up residue under the mask
      • Take time to fit the mask. Ensure all folds in the mask have been used to optimise the fit and do not over-tighten.
      • Regularly inspect your skin for signs of redness / soreness
      • Stay well hydrated throughout the day
      • Caution: Skin protectants and emollients with white soft paraffin are flammable, you are advised not to smoke with them on your skin  

       7. Is a "KN95" mask better or worse than a "FFP2" or "N95" mask?

      Both are good, and can help as a means of source control. The different names refer back to which country they are made in and to which country's manufacturing and safety standards they conform to. KN95 = China, FFP2 = European and N95 = United States. They all perform to almost the same level of filtration; the FFP2 filters at least 94% of particles over 0.3 micron while both the KN95 and N95 filter at least 95%.

      Please see our blog on the differences between various mask/respirator models for more information on filtration performance. 


      PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

      1. What is PPE?

      PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment, and comes in three (3) levels of protection, according to the level of need for safety and severity of potential injuries, as shown in the chart below. 

      PPE are products that the user can wear or hold, to be protected against risks either at work, at home or whilst engaging in leisure activities. Statistics on fatal and major work accidents underline the importance of protection and prevention, for which personal protective equipment plays an important role.

      All PPE requires assessment for certification. Masks and PPE UK strictly adheres to the guidelines, and are checking everything we can before it goes to sale to the best of our efforts.

      PPE Personal Protective Equipment Three Category Levels diagram


      2. What does this mean for masks, for example?

      Anything to do with the respiratory system is always placed into Category III (3), therefore masks and respirators are always considered Category III (3). This is the highest rating, which also means that they are required to have EU certification in order to be sold in the UK. However, in order to help ease the manufacture, supply and availability of PPE products into the market the UK government has recently temporarily relaxed these certification requirements. For the present time, any product which falls into a PPE product category does not need to have certification on entering the UK, but the importer must be able to demonstrate that an approved testing process is already underway. We go into this in more detail in our blog here.

      Certification is not the same as CE marking, both of which we cover further in the Certification & Testing section below.


      3. How do you dispose of PPE safely?

      Please make sure that you dispose of PPE correctly by putting disposable equipment in clinical waste bins only before leaving a clinical area. If you are not able to access such facilities, please consider purchasing a clinical waste bin.

      If the latter is not an available option for you, ensure that any disposable PPE items are placed in two refuse bin bags (one inside the other), and securely double knotted to close at the opening. These can then be placed in regular refuse bins.

       

      Certification & Testing

      1. What is CE marking?

      CE marking is a certification mark that indicates conformity with health, safety, and environmental protection standards for products sold within the European Economic Area. The CE marking is also found on products sold outside the EEA that have been manufactured to EEA standards.

      Therefore, CE marking is essentially only relevant within the EU and EEA, but some countries which expect to join the EU soon will have already implemented CE marking requirements for imports. In other countries a CE marking, although without any legal meaning can be regarded as an indication of a quality product.

      2. Must all products on sale in the EU require a CE marking?

      CE marking Directives do not cover all possible goods offered for sale. If a product is not covered by a CE marking directive, it cannot carry a CE marking. If it is covered it must carry a CE marking.

      3. Why is this relevant for my purchase?

      A number of our products on this site are manufactured in China, including non-surgical masks and KN95 respiratory masks. Therefore, we'd like to make you aware that just because the product does not have a CE marking, does not mean it is not of a good quality standard or that it will not work as you need it to.

      4. Can a Chinese company grant a CE certification?
      No. If you see this kind of CE certification, this means that the CE marking is not valid.


      5. Does that mean that there fake certifications then?

      Yes, a lot, unfortunately. The only notified bodies for CE marking are European. If a product has European CE mark certification, a test certificate is required to prove this.

      6. Is the Chinese manufacturer responsible for testing? 

      No. The importer is responsible to ensure the above is carried out with the approved bodies.

      7. Does this mean that all products in China are rubbish?

      No, definitely not. There are some very high quality and rigorously tested products that China produces. China has its own testing body (CNAS) which ensures conformity testing.

      8. Is it possible to put a product to market without a CE marking?

      Yes, currently it is. The government has recently relaxed guidelines to state that if a product is in process of being tested with an approved body, and this can be evidenced, then this product can be made available for purchase in the UK. We go into this in more detail in our blog here.

      9. What compliance does PPE in general need to conform to?

      Compliance with the EU legislation on PPE (Regulation (EU) 2016/425) ensures that PPE are safe to be used by the wearer and at the same time offer the necessary and claimed protection. Please see our latest blog update on regulatory advice for PPE for more information.