KN95 facemasks are the subject of a Safety Alert from the Health and Safety Executive as they may not compliant with the European Standards the UK currently works to and there are a number of fakes flooding the market which do not actually meet the KN95 standard!
What is KN95?
KN95 is a performance rating under a Chinese Standard which is broadly in line with the European Standard. A KN95 facemasks is near to the FFP2 grade we use in the UK. The issue is that there are many KN95 masks flooding the mask market which have been found to have fraudulent certification.
Manufacturers Self Certifying KN95 Masks
Masks to KN95 standard are manufactured in China and there is no independent testing of the product. The manufacturer of the mask declares that the mask is compliant to the KN95 standard and that’s enough. In China. It is certainly not enough in the UK where masks must display a CE mark.
Mask Certification in the UK
The masks we know in the UK which bear FFP1, FFP2, FFP3 grades are manufactured to the European Standard EN149:2009. A requirement in the UK is that independent testing is undertaken before a mask design is awarded an FFP3 grade and if it does not meet the standards of EN149:2009 it cannot be sold or used as personal protective equipment.
How to Check your Face Mask is Compliant
A one-piece face mask ie. Without removable filters, the CE mark, the standard is it tested to and the grade is is given are shown actually on the mask, as in the photo, left.
On a mask which has removable filters, the information is on the actual filter. I use a JSP Force 8 Press to Check FFP3 Mask personally and the info is really difficult to photograph as it is embossed in white. So, I’ve used a pen on an old filter to highlight the information so it’s easy to see.
As you can see, the expiry date of the filter is highlighted as is the CE mark. The EN standard is on there but I have highlighted the P3 so you can see the relevant information.
My mask doesn’t display a CE Mark
In a construction setting, a face mask must display a CE mark in order to sold or used as Personal Protective Equipment. The only exception to this is when masks have been supplied by the UK Government to the NHS. Testing is carried out by the HSE and compliant batches are approved for use.
If you cannot find the CE mark on your mask, it is likely that it is not compliant, and more importantly, isn’t offering you the level of protection necessary.
What to do next
- Check the grade of your mask
- If it is shows KN95, it cannot be deemed as Personal Protective Equipment
- If it shows a CE mark and standard EN149:2009 it is of the correct standard
- Check the expiry date on filters – if the date has passed, change them.
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