Let’s face it.  It’s been a turbulent few months with PPE supply. There’s been global shortages of gloves, hand sanitiser, coveralls, masks and more.

I think we all know the answer why! With over 17 million confirmed Covid-19 cases (as of 30/7/20) and global hysteria at a sustained all-time high, panic buying has left stocks of raw materials significantly depleted.

Twin this with slower customs clearance, government sanctions and increased NHS, Emergency and Social Services and Critical Care needs, we’re starting to look at a pretty wobbly UK supply line of disposable PPE.

In this article, we’ll focus on the difference between masks and face coverings and looking at whether you need to wear one.

What’s an acceptable face covering?

In a Covid world, a face covering is a generally accepted term for anything that covers the lower part of your face, mainly your nose & mouth.

A face covering could include:

  • A scarf wrapped around your lower face (over nose & mask)
  • Surgical grade masks (Type IIR)
  • Reusable cotton masks
  • Bandanna
  • Civilian Grade Type 1 Masks

Do I need to wear one?

Most likely yes.

The government legislation that came into force on the 24th July has meant that a face covering needs to be worn in all enclosed public spaces as of that date.  The new legislation joined a preceding one whereby all civilians using public transport would have to wear one.

However…

There is an exception for some circumstances.  Children under 11, those unable to put on a face covering due to mental or physical disabilities/illness or if you are reliant on lip movements for communication.

So what does a mask/face covering do?

A mask is by no means a guarantee that you won’t get a virus.  In fact, that’s a far cry away from reality.  However it will help slow transmission from person to person. That’s why they’re imperative for social and health workers where social distancing just isn’t an option.

At the beginning of the government campaign, we were advised to stay at home, save lives, protect the NHS so really, minimising interaction with others is going to be your best weapon of protection.

But as the UK comes out of lockdown, make the right face covering choice!

There are many types of mask out there.  If you’re a member of the public reading this, then we’d recommend you to make your own mask!

However, if you’re in an industry where social distancing is impossible or a mask is imperative to protect your staff, we have a quick round up below to help you.

Our guide to face masks

Type 1 

This most likely the mask that the person in front of you in the supermarket queue is wearing.   It’s an everyday civilian mask composed of 3 layers, and does have some fluid repellent properties although not certified to Type IIR.   These are in short supply, but still available, although likely at an inflated price.  If it’s not possible to make your own and you’d like that peace of mind and protection for your day to day activities, this is probably the one for you.

Type II

These are a popular disposable option with healthcare and emergency services and are best suited for environments there is exposure to low/med quantities of fluid or aerosols.   These should meet EN14683 Ratings and always look for the CE certification.

In times like this Coronavirus crisis, these are hard to obtain.  Please think before purchasing:  does my mask match my task?

FFP2 Respirator 

FFP2 masks are mostly used in the construction industry, and especially tasks like plastering where there are medium to high levels of dust exposure.  There is also a critical need for these masks in the healthcare sector as these protect against aerosols and fluids with a PFE or Particle Filtration Rate of >95%.  This means that a minimum of 95% of all airborne particles are filtered, offering vital protection to both patients and healthcare professionals.

Where possible, please leave the FFP2 masks for those who need them.  It is highly unlikely that any British citizen in any public environment will need this level of protection.  Please think before purchasing: does my mask fit my task?

KN95 

The KN95 is the Chinese certification grade of a mask similar to an FFP2.  However, beware!  An FFP2 is an EU certified grade, and the masks are generally better made and have gone through a lot more stringent testing process. It does however have a 4 layer filtration system which offers superior protection.

FFP3 Respirator 

This is the top grade of mask available on the market, and offers the highest levels of protection.  Ideal for situations where medical personnel are handling dangerous chemicals, radioactive substances or for viral infection control.  These masks filter out 99% of particles up to 0.6 μm and are the highest level of mask protection.

These are proving very hard to obtain, given the more complex manufacturing process and the exponential increase in demand.  Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the NHS are now breaking into their stocks of these respirator masks reserved for pandemic flu.  Once again, please think before purchasing:  does my mask fit my task?

Cotton Masks

Cotton Masks are the best option for any civilian looking to take a stroll through your local shopping centre or meet someone in an enclosed space.  Typically these come with 2 layers of cotton protection & often have an anti-microbial outer layer which will last for a few washes.  These need to be washed at above 60 degrees and should be replaced with another as soon as the mask feels damp to the touch.

Where should I buy them from?

A lot of local supermarkets are now catching onto the trends and are catching ad hoc sales with the unfortunate person who has forgotten their mask.  In addition, Amazon, garden centres, shopping centres & many local businesses will have some supplies for smaller purchases.

For larger volumes, always check that the company is a reputable supplier.  Many companies have a “Who we work with” page, so it’s a good idea to check this out.  Always look for EN certification and always ask for a spec sheet.

Doing your bit

Did you do your bit and wear a mask?

Did you do your bit and wear a mask?

In 1915, a now famous WWI recruitment poster was released saying “Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?”  Today, this could be echoed as “Reader, what did YOU do to help Covid-19?”

Will you be proud of your answer?

It might only be small, but wearing a mask when out and about is a small but very important thing that you can do to help flatten the curve and stamp out the virus.

So stay home where you can, wear a mask and stay safe.

Remember, together we’re stronger.

 

And if you need to know more about masks, please just get in touch

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As we all head back to work, keeping safe will be in everyone’s thoughts. Many will be asking what will life be like at work after lock down? Is it safe? What risk assessments have been done? What changes can be expected and what would many hope to see? Covid 19 has completely changed how we approach life and simple things like the commute to work now needs planning and protective equipment. Reassuring staff as they return that their welfare is key will be important. Employers will need to manage best practice by reminding customers and visitors to adhere to social distancing. These are just some of the new challenges ahead.

Life after lock down at the office

Have you noticed people queuing patiently outside shops? But once inside in a familiar setting, maintaining the required 2 meter distance seems quickly forgotten? It’s the same for the office. Reminding staff to change habits will be a challenge. Yes they might have all read the risk assessments but when it comes to entering the shared staff canteen or kitchen to grab a coffee, it’s easily forgotten.

While there are those individuals with a more relaxed attitude, employers will also have to find a way to navigate round those staff who are anxious about returning to work. In a recent survey of shop workers, only 19% stated they felt safe at work and that was down to their employer supplying adequate PPE.

There are lots of things an employer can do to keep teams alert and moving safely round your premises.

Keeping Covid 19 front of mind

Social distancing floor sticker

Social distancing Wall & Floor Sticker

Whilst we would all probably like to forget about the start to 2020, keeping what has happened front of mind will reduce the risk of the resurgence of Coronavirus. There are a number of visual reminders that you can use such as floor and wall stickers. There are many standard versions and also bespoke options to suit your particular set up.

With the anti-slip example shown here, this could be used on either floors and walls. Other examples can have other specific instructions again depending on your requirements. Warning floor tape can also do the job and these again can have a bespoke message.

When it comes to open plan offices and protecting staff at their desks, screens are a quick solution. As they are transparent, they don’t cause a physical barrier with multi-functional teams. There is still the opportunity for safe collaborative working. These can be available in different colours and branded options too.

Products for protection against Covid 19

Virakleen Coronavirus Sanitiser

Virakleen Coronavirus Sanitiser

These measures will help with changing habits but to keep everyone safe, the encouragement of good hand hygiene is absolutely crucial. Setting up hand sanitising stations at entrances and exits and high traffic areas will certainly help. Making hand sanitiser readily available for your teams will reassure staff that you are thinking of their welfare. Pump top options are best as this limits contact and of course contact free dispensers offer a great solution.

Coming back to work after the long lock down also provides an opportunity to clean desks and put a good cleaning regimen in place. Set up a cleaning rota so everyone gets involved. Make sure to use a sanitiser that is specifically formulated against Covid 19. Ordinary antibacterial spray won’t be effective against Coronvirus. A product that has been really popular with our customers has been Virakleen which is a virucidal spray.  It can be used on hard surfaces as well as soft furnishings.

So these are just some of the things you can do to protect your team, giving them confidence that they are safe to return to work after lock down.

Working with a PPE supplier who can advise and help you get a safe system in place is a great place to start. We have a large range of products to get you up and running quickly, take a look here to see what you may need for your office: https://www.acopia.co.uk/ppe-and-janitorial-supplies/#toggle-id-17

 

Whether you’re buying face masks for your customers, your employees or for your family, it’s good to know that what you’re recommending or using is the right product for the job. With so many masks to choose from, it can be confusing to know which one will provide the level of protection you need. Face coverings have now been made compulsory on all public transport from 15th June when more people are expected go back to work. As non-essential shops reopen their doors, social distancing will be difficult at times on buses and trains. Currently less than four out ten people are using face masks on public transport, and fines will now be introduced for those who don’t comply. So, what’s the best face mask to buy as you, your family, your employees and your customers head back to work?

Face masks to stop the spread of Covid 19

The guidance stipulates a face covering which can be made at home or even the use of a scarf. These solutions do come with a drawback. A simple face covering will have to be washed at over 60 degrees after each use to kill any virus on the material.  You would have to go work armed with quite a few home made coverings. They would need to be changed frequently on long journeys and certainly after each commute. Also, with the recent hot weather  combined with busy tube trains, home made coverings or scarves might not be the most comfortable to wear. By far, the easiest and most convenient way to prevent the spread of the virus would have to be manufactured face masks. These are lightweight, comfortable and disposable after every use, limiting transmission.

Which face mask is best and how to avoid a fake?

Type 1 Face Mask

The Type 1 Face Mask

So with just over a week to get prepared, what is the best face mask for the daily commute? With confusing acronyms such as KN95, FFP2, 3 ply, Type IIR, FFP3, Type 1 – which is best? With surgical and medical masks needed for front line workers, the basic Type 1 mask would be the best choice.  It provides protection against the transmission of Covid 19 and is a 3 ply mask. And just to get a bit technical, they have been tested to a bacterial filtration efficiency of 95%.

It’s really important that you purchase your masks from a reputable company. The market has been flooded with fakes which puts lives at risk. Using a company that has a great reputation and has been selling PPE for some time, rather than one who has just started during this time is best. Asking for certification is also a good idea as well as just picking up the phone and chatting to your supplier will give you reassurance as to whether they are knowledgeable and genuine.

The New Normal

And as you head back to work (whether it’s on public transport or not), welcome your teams back at the office, or prepare to supply your customers – the work does not stop there! Keeping safe at work with good hand hygiene, using hand sanitiser, surface cleaning and safe distancing tools will all be important as we adjust to the new normal. To look at our range of PPE, check out our dedicated web section here:

https://www.acopia.co.uk/ppe-and-janitorial-supplies/#toggle-id-17

For for more bespoke options or to ask for advice and help, you can contact us at [email protected], hop onto our live chat or give us a call on 0845 0845 075 6111.