The HSE has issued a safety alert around substandard face masks that are flooding the UK market at the moment, adding that they should not be used as PPE (personal protective equipment) in the workplace.
The HSE issued an alert titled: Use of facemasks designated KN95 and this alert it said: “A substantial number of face masks, claiming to be of KN95 standards, provide an inadequate level of protection and are likely to be poor quality products accompanied by fake or fraudulent paperwork. These face masks may also be known as filtering facepiece respirators.
Whilst the government agency explained that KN95 is a performance rating under the Chinese standard GB2626:2006 (the requirements of which are broadly the same as the European standard BSEN149:2001+A1:2009 for FFP2 facemasks), it also made it clear that there is no independent certification for this and that the assurance of quality is declared as compliant by the manufacturer.
This means that these masks are not CE marked and cannot be viewed as compliant as personal protective equipment cannot be sold/supplied and defined as PPE unless it is CE marked. The only exception is for PPE that is organised by the UK Government for use by NHS or other healthcare workers where assessments have been undertaken by HSE as the Market Surveillance Authority.
The HSE stress that KN95 masks must not be used as PPE at work as their effectiveness cannot be assured.