With the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, and the staggered re-opening of the nation, many companies are finding all of the different PPE options available to them confusing.
As with any ‘trend’ there is never a shortage of marketeers touting their wares – it seems that every day there is a new piece of PPE on sale.
But which ones do you actually need, and what do they do to protect your employees?
It’s not as though this isn’t important is it? If you’re asking your employees to come back to their workplace, it’s your duty to ensure that workplace is safe for use.
The single, most effective piece of PPE is a face mask. A facemask covers your mouth and nose and is designed to help to stop transmission of viruses via common ingestion methods such as drops, sprays, splatters and splashes.
The combination of a face mask and using it properly by sanitising hands etc, is very literally your first line of defence. So you want to have faith that your equipment is what it says it is, and that it does what it says it does.
Put simply, wearing a mask helps to filter out the viruses from inhalation, and by helping you stop you touching your face with your hands, it reduces the transmission of viruses in that way too.
But not all masks are created equal…
What Types Of Face Mask Are There?
There are so many types of face mask, it can be hard to know where to start. It kind of helps to know a few basics though, so you can buy with confidence knowing that your own needs will be met.
It helps to know that medical face masks are split into 2 main categories – respirators and surgical masks. Masks you may have heard of could include:
- Type I Face Mask
- Type I R Face Mask
- Type II Face Mask
- Type II R Face Mask
- FFP2 Face Mask
- FFP3 Face Mask
- N95 Face Mask
What Are The Differences Between Type I And Type II Face Masks?
The main differences between these two types are their levels of filtration. The BFE (bacterial filtration efficiency) of Type I, and Type I R face masks is 95%, whereas the BFE of Type II and Type II R face masks is 98%. The splash resistance and breathing resistance of Type I R and Type II R masks are both the same.
It is important to note that Type I, IR, II and IIR face masks are medical masks tested using the direction of exhalation. This means they test the inside to outside filtration efficiency of bacteria. Surgical masks of these types limit the spread of virus by stopping the wearer from infecting their surrounding environment. They are not designed to protect the wearer from inhaling airborne viruses such as Coronavirus.
What is a Type II Face Mask?
Type II face masks (EN14683) are medical face masks with a protective 3 ply construction designed to prevent large particles from passing through them. Typical characteristics of a Type II face masks could include:
- Pleat style mask with ear loops or ties
- Protective three-layer construction
- Available in a variety of colours and styles
Martek’s masks are CE marked as EN14683 standard.
How Can I Tell If A Face Mask Is Fake?
As you’ll probably know by now, the market is flooded with counterfeit PPE equipment, so you’ll want to know that’s not what you’re buying!
Many international masks will want to comply with the NIOSH standards (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) so are often marked with NIOSH designations of N95, N99, N100, R95, R99, R100, P95, P99, P100.
Some signs that a respirator or face mask may be counterfeit are:
- The filtering facepiece has no markings at all on it
- There is no CE number on the filtering facepiece
- Presence of decorative fabric or other decorative add-ons (e.g., sequins)
- Claims for the approval for children (NIOSH does not approve any type of respiratory protection for children)
- No NIOSH markings
- NIOSH spelled incorrectly
- Filtering facepiece respirator has ear loops instead of headbands.
One of the key roles of your PPE equipment is to help the wearer and their peers feel safe and less exposed – one of the biggest needs you’ll have as your workers return to their working environments en masse.
Should I Buy Single Use Face Masks?
Wearing a face mask is essential if you have employees out in the field, or if they are traveling to and from the workplace. The perfect face mask should be easy to wear, disposable, and protective.
Single use masks are best for this, as they provide a good level of protection and can be disposed of after use. They should never be re-used and should be immediately replaced if they become damp or damaged, if they become contaminated or are compromised in any way.
Face masks should also be highly comfortable, light, and also breathable. This is especially important if they are going to be worn for long periods of time. They should have an excellent fit to the face so that they can protect the wearer as much as possible.
Avoiding The Virus Touch
We’ve all heard of the Midas touch right? Well it’s not quite gold you’ll be turning things into if your hands are covered in viral bacteria. Another important part of protecting your employees from any virus transmission is by wearing disposable gloves.
Disposable gloves help protect against the spread of the virus by minimising hand contact with surfaces in your offices, your customer’s homes, or areas where your staff will be working.
Disposable gloves actually have quite a list of criteria in order to do their job well:
- They need to be comfortable to wear, light and breathable for the skin.
- They should also not be too easy to remove or they become less effective at protecting the wearer.
- They need to be durable enough not to rip or tear too easily especially in cases where the wearer is working primarily with their hands.
- They may need to be touchscreen compatible if screen usage is part of their working role, or the removal of the gloves negates the point in wearing them.
It’s very important that they are only worn once and when compromised should be discarded straight away. This gives the best level of protection possible.
Martek’s gloves are latex-free, compliant with the medical devices directive 93/42/EEC and European Standard EN455, and are touchscreen compatible too.
More details on our disposable Nitrile gloves can be found here.
Keeping It Clean With Hand Sanitiser
Talking of the Midas Touch – hand sanitiser is like gold dust at the moment! The importance of washing and sanitising hands to limit cross contamination and the spread of infection has been one of the loudest messages during this pandemic.
Workers can’t always access water easily in order to wash their hands though. There are also some roles which require lots of contact with either people or regularly used surfaces. For these occasions and where employees need to remove their protective gloves, they can keep their hands clean using a good quality hand sanitiser.
Martek’s hand sanitising gel leaves the skin soft and smooth – it’s easy to overlook the importance of this but using a hand sanitiser regularly which strips the skin or causes a reaction could easily result in painful hands (or staff avoiding using it!). Not good in a practical or manual role!
The high alcohol content in our hand sanitisers thoroughly cleans the hands of any bacterial content, including Covid-19, leaving your employees more confident that their skin is safe This makes it ideal for use around critical infection control zones. Hand sanitisers should have a high alcohol content, be safe to apply to skin, and should protect from various kinds of bacteria buildup. Martek’s hand sanitiser:
- Protects from flu
- Is >95% 0.1 Micron Filtration Efficiency
- Protects from virus’ – particularly COVID-19
You can find out more about including Martek Hand Sanitiser in your protective kit here.
Checking For Viruses and Illness
If you have employees coming into your working environment, you will want to make sure they are not already ill when they arrive. Their temperature is a good indicator of the earlier signs of illness setting in within the body.
Checking Temperatures Safely
A great way to test temperatures of workers or patients without physical contact is with the use of an infrared thermometer.
These handheld devices are non-contact and take your temperature within a couple of seconds. The body temperature is measured by the device detecting heat radiation from your forehead. They are a very reliable indicator of illness as the body’s temperature rises significantly above normal levels if you are ill.
Monitoring temperatures regularly allows you to spot temperature spikes in the workplace – any people with raised temperatures can be promptly sent home to self-isolate and limit the risk of viral infections spreading through your workforce – particularly in high footfall areas.
Martek’s infrared thermometer has a tri-color backlit high-temperature alert, a clear screen, and takes a temperature in just one second. This means that you can take temperatures reliably, without contact and the thermometer has an inbuilt alarm which will sound if there is a high temperature.
In less than a second, you have a clear result, with no contact and all of the guesswork is taken away. You can find out more about our non-contact thermometer here.
Passing The COVID19 Test
One of the main issues we’ve been up against in Coronavirus Pandemic has been access to testing. And ensuring they’re not fake!
If you suspect an employee may be infected with the virus, it’s crucial to be as clear as possible on whether they are a risk to their peers and the public – they will need to self-isolate quickly.
Our Coronasafe™ Test Kit offers a preliminary test which could indicate whether employees are infected. They are not designed to provide a confirmed test or diagnosis, but they will help with the early identification of potential cases and the ability to contain any infections in the workplace rapidly:
- Fast results in 10 minutes with a single drop of blood from finger-prick
- The first combined IgM/IgG screening test backed by a clinical trial of 1,585 patients
- 98.02% clinical specificity & 96.85% consistency
- CE Marked
- ISO Certified
- Registered with MHRA for sale in the UK for professional use
These next few months are just as crucial in the nation containing the pandemic as when the lockdown first started. It’s too easy for employees to become complacent, so as their employers it’s your role to ensure a clear process is in place on how your workforce is expected to co-operate.
We’ve recently shared how you can return your workforce to a safer working environment- particularly in construction and manufacturing. You can read the article here for more information. An absence of protocol, training, and equipment will fall to you as their employer, so if you need any help or advice on how you can ensure your workforce are as well equipped and safe as possible, get in touch and our team will happily listen to what you need and help.
With the right PPE kit, you can be sure that you will not only protect your employees but also be able to keep them working and productive and make sure your company is running almost as normal during the testing times we’re currently facing.