HSE issues warning over substandard face masks
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued a warning to industries including construction that a “substantial” number of face masks claiming to meet KN95 standards aren’t of good enough quality to be used safely.
The substandard products, also known as filtering facepiece respirators, are also likely to be accompanied by fake or fraudulent paperwork, the HSE cautioned.
KN95 is a performance rating under Chinese standards, the requirements of which are broadly the same as the European standard BSEN149:2001+A1:2009 for FFP2 facemasks.
But the HSE warned there is no independent certification or assurance of the masks’ quality, with products manufactured to KN95 rating declared as compliant by the manufacturer.
In the UK, personal protective equipment (PPE) cannot be sold or supplied 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.
HSE urged companies to remove masks that are not CE marked and cannot be shown to be compliant from supply immediately.
If any are CE marked, suppliers must be able to demonstrate how they know the documentation and CE marking is genuine, supported by Notified Body documentation showing compliance with the essential health and safety requirements as required by the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations (EU) 2016/425.