HSE issue safety warning against face mask

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is urging dentists to avoid using a particular face mask over fears it does not protect against COVID-19The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is urging dentists to avoid using a particular face mask over fears it does not protect against COVID-19.

A safety alert has been issued warning dental teams and suppliers against purchasing or using KN95 face masks.

The mask has a performance rating that is generally equivalent to the EU standard for FFP2 face masks.

However, products manufactured according to KN95 requirements depend on a self-declaration of compliance by the manufacturer. No independent certification or quality assurance is required.

Additionally, they are often accompanied by fake or fraudulent paperwork.

Poor quality

After identifying the mask as suspect, locally-arranged testing has confirmed they would not meet requirements. As a result, they are unlikely to provide protection against COVID-19.

Currently, around 90% of PPE concerns received by HSE involve the KN95 masks. Around 1.5 million of the masks have been quarantined by HSE, with a further 25 million items claiming to be FFP3 masks being prevented from the supply chain.

Rick Brunt, HSE’s director of operational strategy, said: ‘The KN95 face mask should not be purchased or used.

‘KN95 has not been a principal source of PPE for the NHS. It has already made the decision not to supply this respirator to frontline clinicians fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

‘We have found that the lack of independent testing has contributed to there being a substantial quantity of inadequate and poor-quality masks on the market, claiming to comply with the KN95 standard.’

Concerns over protection

He added: ‘We understand a lot of people, mainly in sectors outside of healthcare, have bought these face masks without realising they are non-compliant.

‘We are concerned that people wearing them are not being protected from breathing in harmful substances in the way they expect. Protective equipment must protect.’

Additionally, HSE state the safety alert is unrelated to N95 masks, which are manufactured to a US Standard. They have been given the green light for use specifically in UK healthcare settings.

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