Health & Safety News

News added on 17.06.2020

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Coronavirus - PPE

KN95 facemasks not up to standard

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued a safety alert warning employers and suppliers not to purchase or use KN95 facemasks as personal protective equipment (PPE). What’s the problem with them and what should employers look out for?

KN95 is a performance rating under a Chinese standard that is broadly equivalent to the EU standard for FFP2 facemasks. However, because they rely on a self-declaration of compliance by the manufacturer, there is no independent certification or assurance of their quality. Testing arranged by the HSE has confirmed that KN95 facemasks do not meet requirements, including protection against coronavirus.

There is a substantial quantity of poor-quality masks on the market, claiming to conform to the KN95 standards. About 90% of the PPE queries received by the HSE concern KN95 masks which are often accompanied by fake or fraudulent paperwork.

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. For example, N95 masks are manufactured to a US Standard and have been given permission for use specifically in UK healthcare settings.

The HSE is working to remove KN95 masks from the supply chain, in conjunction with other agencies. Employers should check their stocks of facemasks and remove any that are not CE marked as they may not provide adequate protection.

A copy of the HSE’s alert can be found here.

Genuine PPE is CE marked, demonstrating that it conforms to the correct safety standards and provides the level of protection claimed. The HSE has issued a warning that KN95 facemasks are not compliant and should not be used to protect against workplace hazards, including coronavirus.

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