Face Masks Are Essential PPE To Help Reduce The Spread Of Coronavirus
Face masks have become an identifiable symbol of the Covid-19 pandemic, as PPE provides a vital defence against this respiratory infection. Countries such as Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Turkey have all made it mandatory to wear a mask in public and the UK government may follow suit. Frontline healthcare workers must be protected by wearing face masks when carrying out their medical tasks. From surgical masks, to KN95 masks there’s a wide range of PPE equipment to choose from, so it’s important to know which face masks are right for your needs.
Who Do Face Masks Protect?
Face masks can offer protection for anyone who wants to avoid becoming infected with the Covid-19 virus. Anyone working in a healthcare or social care environment may regularly come into contact with patients or members of the public who are either definitely infected, or who display tell-tale symptoms of the coronavirus. If you work in the testing or treatment of suspected or confirmed Covid-19 patients, then face masks will offer you essential protection against this disease. As the virus is spread through inhalation into the respiratory system, face masks covering the nose and mouth will significantly reduce the transmission rate.
Face masks are an essential component of your PPE kit for workers carrying out swabs, checking blood samples, conducting aerosol-generating procedures such as bronchoscopies or those who are in close physical contact with patients in wards, intensive care or in care homes.
Outside of the healthcare environment, public transport workers such as bus drivers, retail staff and taxi drivers can all protect themselves by donning personal protective face masks.
However, it is not just frontline workers who can benefit from wearing face masks. Anyone who leaves their home to visit the supermarket, take public transport, attend their workplace or walk down a street can benefit from wearing face masks.
Which Masks Are The Right Choice?
When a contagious person talks, coughs or sneezes, contaminated droplets of moisture are released into the air. PPE face masks which cover the nose and mouth will prevent these from being inhaled. There are a wide range of masks on the market which offer different grades of protection against the coronavirus.
You might see face masks available including KN95, N95 or FFP2 types. The difference between these varieties is incredibly minimal and relates to the standards of the country they were manufactured in. For example, N95 masks have been certified as meeting the certification standards for respiratory masks in the US, whilst KN95 face masks have achieved similar criteria when developed in China. In the UK and throughout Europe, we use the label of FFP2 face masks which have met the European standard EN 149: 2001 for disposable respirator protection. FFP standards for filtering face piece, and these are offered at three different grades, depending on the level of protection you require or have access to.
FFP1 face masks are typically used to protect manual workers from low volumes of dust so are the least filtering level of protection. FFP1 allows aerosol filtration of around 80% and leakage inside the mask of around 22%.
FFP2 face masks, which are also known as KN95 or N95 masks, offer 95% protection against airborne particles including those containing viruses such as Covid-19. These are a popular choice of protection for caregivers who are in close physical contact with a person who may have the coronavirus.
FFP3 face masks offer the strongest level of protection for frontline workers, filtering out 99% of particles, which is essential for those assisting patients during aerosol-generating procedures. Unfortunately, FFP3 face masks are incredibly difficult to obtain at the moment, so healthcare staff and care providers are opting instead for combinations of FFP2 masks with other PPE gear to deliver an additional layer of protection.
Can Surgical Face Masks Be Worn?
3 ply surgical face masks are useful protection against large droplets of contaminated vapour. They are useful in low-risk situations, potentially for delivery drivers, postal workers and when members of the public want to visit the supermarket.
In a healthcare environment, surgical face masks may be worn in community care settings or in primary care facilities when the wearer is able to stay at least 1 metre away from a patient who is suspected of having contracted Covid-19. Surgical masks are also useful if you’re tasked with cleaning a patient’s room or carrying out phlebotomy work for example.
Surgical masks are reusable and should not be shared with other people. They should be discarded when they are moist or when they no longer fit well.
Combining Face Masks With Additional PPE Equipment
If you’re not able to obtain the right level of protection for your requirements, you can layer your face masks with additional PPE kit to provide you with a strong defence against Covid-19. For example, if you wear an FFP2 mask, then you could pair this with a transparent face shield over the top to ensure that no contaminated droplets are able to reach your eyes or respiratory system. Face shields easily fit over the top of reusable masks too and prevent the wearer from touching their own face, which is essential in halting the spread of the coronavirus.
Nitrile gloves are also important when working in settings which may have contaminated surfaces, or when handling tests or blood samples from patients who are suspected with having the infection. PPE aprons and gowns will also cover your clothing and prevent splashes of bodily fluids or blood from coming into contact with your skin.
Fighting the coronavirus is made possible when frontline workers and members of the public commit to wearing personal protective equipment to stop the progress of this vicious disease.
PPE Supplies Direct stocks a comprehensive range of virus protection equipment to help safeguard teams or individuals during the pandemic. We are constantly updating our stock and are able to dispatch selected items within 24 hours. If you have any questions about our virus protection stock levels or any other queries about our product range, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experienced customer service team on 0808 109 6099 today.