What facemasks should you buy?
The post with our videos should help you decide, with more certainty, which mask options are the best for you and your needs.
What face mask, or face-covering do you need to shop in England?
With face masks and facial coverings front and centre, specifically England, there are a lot of questions and considerations you need to know before buying and using facemasks.
With D-Day or M (mask) day, starting on the 24th of July 2020, people in England will be required to wear facial coverings or face masks in shops and confined spaces.
This will go hand in hand with the guidance on mask use on public transport, so with this date already upon us what can we all do when looking to pick the right product?
A quick look on Google and YouTube you can see the searches for:
Best face masks for coronavirus
Which face mask should I buy?
Face masks for shopping UK
What do face masks do?
Reusable vs disposable face masks
Where to buy face masks
are face masks mandatory UK?
can face masks be washed UK
These searches are high on the trending list, that means there are lots of questions which need answering to help people make the right buying decisions concerning masks and facial coverings.
Don’t worry, this post will aim to answer those questions and more, as we advance.
Unfortunately for you dear reader, if you have already scanned a few articles and videos, you will tend to see a list of possible mask options with price tags.
But not much in substance to help you pick the right ones for you and or your business.
This post isn’t a sales pitch, BHI is not concerned if you are buying from us.
What we are concerned with, is that you are buying the right products for your business.
Our objective is to help as many people as we can get back up and running after the lockdown.
What do facemasks actually do against coronavirus?
So, let’s start at the beginning, what do face masks do against COVID-19 (coronavirus), and perhaps more importantly what they don’t do?
Have a quick look at this video as it may help people avoid people paying “silly” prices for masks they don’t necessarily need.
Let us repeat that – NO FACEMASKS, ON ITS OWN, CAN STOP THE COVID-19 INFECTION!
We know, we know, that’s crazy right?!
Are face masks enough to protect you from COVID-19?
So, why are they asking us to wear face masks on public transport and now in shops and supermarkets?
Well, face masks don’t work in the way some people may think, even if the description states something to the contrary.
Think about it, if facemasks were so effective against the virus, and indeed other viral or infectious diseases, doctors and nurses would only be wearing masks when dealing with COVID patients.
Instead, they have been wearing a full array of head to toe PPE products, especially during the pandemic.
To stop them being infected and to reduce the risk of cross-contamination to their other patients when dealing with infections, or suspected infections.
Front line workers, NHS, and medical staff have been prescribed PPE products such as FFP3 face masks, nitrile/latex gloves, face shields, ear protection, overalls, gowns, scrubs, overshoes and have a rigorous washdown/clean down procedures.
This should tell you that just wearing face coverings or masks isn’t enough to protect you from being infected from this virus or any virus.
What face mask do I need to shop in the UK
Okay, you may say, so why are the authorities saying we should all wear face masks and or coverings in shops from the 24th of July 2020 in England.
Well, think of it this way, no mask will protect you directly but if everyone is wearing facial coverings in a confined space, it will have a cumulative effect and therefore protect you, indirectly.
Face masks reduce the number of respiratory droplets (these droplets are thought to contain the virus and other biological material) from being breathed out into a wider environment.
We cough, sneeze, breathe, and talk these droplets out naturally, so the thinking is, the greater the number of these droplets are contained within masks, the greater the reduction is to the risk of infection.
In other words, the more people that wear facial coverings in communal spaces (shops & buses etc) the less likely people who are susceptible will be at risk.
This is logical yet flawed in many ways, but we’re not going to talk about the political aspects here.
We’re going to talk about the products and their applications to help guide people to choose the right products for them.
Should I buy N95, FFP2 or FFP3 face mask for Coronavirus?
The short answer is no!
You only need FFP2 (P2) or FFP3 (P3) masks if your risk assessment and S.O.P (Standard Operating Procedure) mandates these products for use outside of the very narrow scope of COVID-19 applications.
If you used the P2 or P3 face masks before the pandemic, then you will still need these PPE products in line with what your requirements state.
If you didn’t use them before, it is highly unlikely that you will need them for social distancing or coronavirus applications.
If you are still unsure, we can help as we’re sure you have more pressing matters to attend to like rebuilding your business.
Call us on 01709 527 603
We can do the legwork for you to save you time, money and energy.
Make buying PPE & Workwear Simple Easy Effective.
What should I be spending on face masks in the UK?
If you have bought FFP2, FFP3, or N95 face masks for use against COVID-19, then you may have bought a product that you don’t need.
These facemasks will not offer the protection you may have been lead to believe.
You would need a full head to toe COVID PPE kit for that, and being completely honest unless you are in direct contact with infected persons these products would offer very little in terms of value.
Buying PPE in today’s environment is a minefield, one that is expensive and avoidable with the right guidance.
BHI will help you buy the right face masks & the right PPE so you can focus on your business
Firstly, N95 face masks do not meet EU/UK specifications for safety & conformity for standardised use.
They are not fit for purpose beyond reducing respiratory droplets, they can’t be used in the UK as a face fit RPE product.
Be very aware of this!
This issue will become very apparent as the virus is reduced down and people start using these N95 or fake FFP3 for “normal” operations.
Why is buying face masks such a problem?
We know it’s quite confusing as some of the advice is paradoxical or contradictory, leaving many people perplexed as to what to do next.
Paralysis by analysis!
To start with, the N95 (KN95 & KN98) masks do meet the criteria for COVID-19 use in the UK, but the cost for these products render them an expensive exercise in futility when you know what the masks do and what they don’t.
Why would you pay £5, £10, £15 or above for a mask when you can find effective alternatives for 50p?
Do you need to buy and use FFP2 or FFP3 masks in the UK?
Not unless your risk assessment states you do.
As no mask can protect the wearer from being infected when used on its own, why would you pay upwards of £15.00 or £20.00 per mask?
Why would you pay a hefty premium for something that may not do the job you may be buying it for?
You wouldn’t, right?
In Short, you don’t need to buy expensive PPE face masks like the FFP3, FFP2, or N95 (KN95/KN98) for uses against coronavirus and social distancing.
It may make you feel better, but the reality is you will likely be spending a large sum of money that will deliver little in terms of protections.
Save your money and spend it on PPE that will deliver what you need.
Reusable vs disposable face masks
That leaves us with us with two main face mask choices:
Reusable fabric face masks (including face coverings) and disposable masks – like the Type I or Type II R fluid repellent surgical style masks.
Are disposable face masks better than reusable masks?
This is a pretty broad question that has many offshoots, but we will try to answer and narrow down, to give you more useful information.
That way you can make more informed choices when buying your next batch of masks.
Questions that are being searched right now are:
Which face masks is the best to use against coronavirus?
Where to buy face masks?
Can face masks be washed UK?
Which face masks UK
Are reusable face masks effective
Can reusable face masks be washed
Which reusable face mask is best
Which reusable face mask to buy
Where to buy reusable face masks UK
Reusable face masks near me
How to wash reusable facemasks
Let’s take the first question, which face mask is the best to use against coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Well, there isn’t one specific mask we could point to, as the objective is to reduce the number of respiratory droplets in the air, so any 3-ply facial covering will be “effective” in doing this.
That means a £25.00 Nike snood face-covering could be just as effective a 35p Type II R 3-ply fluid repellent face mask.
The main difference is the price.
You can only wear each mask once before either throwing it away or washing it thoroughly.
Although we suspect most people won’t do this or don’t know they should do this.
Should I buy reusable or disposable face masks?
As most people want a definitive answer, we will try and guide you accordingly.
How you answer the following questions will determine which mask option is the best for you.
Do you have the facilities, time, and capability to wash, treat, and maintain the fabric reusable masks after every use?
Can you thoroughly clean the fabric to remove all microbes, bacteria, fungal matter, and contaminants after every use?
Do you have the capability to dry and treat (bacterial, fungal and virucidal) after every use?
Do you have several replacements masks to use throughout the day, every day you require them?
If you do have the facilities and the capabilities to do this, then your best option moving forward is to opt for the reusable fabric face masks.
You could place each mask into a washing cycle over a prolonged period of time to not only protect the people in your vicinity but also reduce the risk of secondary infections as the wearer.
What a great deal of people do not know is that wearing reusable fabric masks dramatically increases the secondary risk of alternative infections and health issues.
Without proper care and maintenance fabric face masks can become breeding grounds for some pretty nasty bugs, on top of the nastiest of nasties.
What environments do bacteria, fungus and viruses like?
Think warm and moist, and you’ll be on the right track.
As we all breathe out respiratory droplets, we will be breathing them out into masks and facial coverings.
Our droplets are benign and ”harmless” to us but given the right the environment, the bacteria in these droplets can multiply and become much more virulent.
This isn’t usually a problem if you are wearing disposable masks, but it can be a problem if you are wearing a face-covering you will wear again later that day or for multiple days.
Remember warm, moist environments?!
Think about your commute to work, the working environment or how long you will be expected to wear the mask.
Do you have enough masks to change them every time you remove them?
Or, are you expected to remove the masks and reapply it when you have finished your food, drink, or cigarette?
How long will you be expected to wear a single mask or covering?
These questions should be of interest you as the wearer, and they should seriously concern you as the employer who may distribute these reusable masks to your employees.
If you have the facilities to wash and clean the masks the risk of secondary infections will be mitigated but, and it is a big but, if you can’t do this, you may be better suited to using disposable face masks.
These questions are for you to decide, but is it reasonable to assume most people would wear the masks for multiple days and just stuff them into pockets, bags or in desks?
We fear that is the case regardless of how many times they are told because it’s kind of out of sight right up until it isn’t.
When they start to develop symptoms, they may need to look at lot closer to home than a coronavirus infection.
Choosing the right face mask for people does depend on more factors than just the price tag, so bear this in mind.
It may be “easier”, at least in the short term, to select a disposable mask option, given the potential risk factors of poor care of the fabric versions.
Of course, there is the environmental impact of single-use face masks but with the right recycling solutions applied these issues could be offset.
It’s not ideal, but right now the choice really does boil down to the lesser of two evils as it were.
What do you need to know about face masks and coronavirus (COVID-19) before you buy?
Buying and then using any face mask for personal and professional use does require a little extra reading, but we also understand that you’re busy focusing on getting back up and running and making a profit.
If you’ve scrolled down to this point and are just looking for someone to solve the problem and give you the best options based upon what you need don’t worry.
That’s what BHI are here for.
Call us, we’ll do the legwork and present you with the best options for your needs
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Common Facemasks questions people are asking
Let’s look at these remaining questions from the above list, to help you select the best face masks for your needs.
Are reusable face masks effective?
If the masks are 3-ply and are made from quality materials, they should be effective at reducing the number of respiratory droplets the wearer breathes out.
They will need to be cleaned and maintained to a high level to offset the bacterial build-up but should serve to protect other people in the environment.
Can reusable face masks be washed?
Most can, they should have care labels and or washing instructions, if they don’t, you will need to check, as we are well aware of some masks being questionable at best and some are just fake or not fit for purpose.
Washing reusable masks is essential because this protects the wearer from breathing in their own bacterial expulsions.
Follow these instructions carefully and make sure the masks are kept in a cool dry place, when not in use.
Please be extra careful when handling these products after each use to reduce further contaminations.
Which reusable face mask is best?
With so many options to choose from you really should look for 3 ply fabric masks with easy to wash instructions.
Price is not an indicator of value and performance here, with so many products being touted as real and genuine you could pay £25.00 for a mask online only for it to turn out that it is a fake.
If you can try and buy from a reputable company with a pedigree in PPE and safety products.
You can opt for the designer face masks if you wish, but make they are not just for cosmetic use and that they are effective at capturing exhaled droplets.
Which reusable face mask to buy?
You can find a vast array of reusable masks on eBay, Amazon or Google shopping, from small no-name brands all the way up to premium brand options.
You need to look at the care labels and whether they are cost-effective, considering the potential risk factors for your needs.
If they tick the boxes, aim to buy at least 3-5 for each wearer so you can keep them in a washing rotation.
Where to buy reusable face masks UK?
You can pick up these facial coverings in many places at varying prices, at the time of writing.
If you can maintain them, reusable masks will last a prolonged period of time and with prices for other masks subject to change they may be cost-effective if there is another supply chain issue for the disposable alternatives.
Where can I find reusable face masks near me
A quick search should render you a list of options to select from, but again you need to make sure these masks suit your needs and capabilities to ensure continued effectiveness.
Start with PPE and safety equipment suppliers or reputable companies first, as they should have a clear line of sight to their supply chain.
This may become an issue as demand increases and supply can’t keep up, or if the supply chain is impacted by a global shortage.
Be aware of fake PPE especially fake face masks like the FFP3, FFP2, and N95 masks.
If the demand for designer masks rises you may find the market flooded with counterfeits versions which you may not know are fake until you’ve spent your money.
If in doubt speak with your current PPE supplier they should be able to help guide you on this.
How to wash reusable facemasks
Each reusable face mask should include maintenance and cleaning instructions.
These must be followed to protect the wearer from secondary issues resulting from poor maintenance.
This may be an issue for employers who are trusting their workforce to do this at their homes.
You may need to check your liabilities on this as a potential issue if you handing out reusable face masks just to be sure.
If there are liabilities or concerns, it may be a wiser move to opt for disposable masks.
One final point we’d like to leave you with is the issue of fake PPE and fake RPE (Respiratory Protective Equipment)
BHI has a video that gives 3 simple steps you could follow to avoid being caught out or left holding fake products that expose you to some pretty nasty repercussions.
You may not believe it, but fake personal protective equipment is big business especially in a global pandemic.
Some manufacturers have switched from producing counterfeit designer products to PPE. If you couple this with supply issues from PPE suppliers in the UK you can find people desperately trying to source alternative supply lines.
This issue has opened up a can of worms which effects may not be felt for a while.
There is a great deal of PPE, including face masks, already in the UK that is not fit for purpose, non-conforming, or is just fake.
The HSE will be performing spot checks in the very near future to seek these products out, the companies using them and suppliers selling them.
If you are uncertain of whether the PPE you are being offered is real or just want to check, this video can help you avoid some of the costly missteps we’ve already seen people make.
If you would like to speak with someone, BHI can help guide you to the right products.
Call us on 01709 527 603 or email firstname.lastname@example.org