Laws and legislation immediately required for face masks
Is your face mask really keeping you protected?
Improvised masks like scarves and plastic buckets are a danger to public health and laws are needed to protect us.
That’s the opinion of a health and safety company which believes there should be a minimum standard for face coverings during this pandemic.
UK based risk assessment software experts Protecting.co.uk are calling for legislation on face masks for UK residents, in order for people to best protect themselves from catching or spreading the virus – with fines for those who are caught breaking the rules.
The health and safety software specialists argue that if tough PPE rules are needed when handling asbestos and spray painting, then similar rules must be put in place during the pandemic.
“There really needs to be clearer rules for face masks because there are people using ridiculous mask substitutes,” says company spokesman Mark Hall.
“While it’s funny to hear about people on the Tube wearing a bucket over their heads to protect themselves, we need to be taking our health very seriously in this difficult year and new PPE laws can help us to do that.”
What are the current Covid-19 guidelines?
The UK government guidelines currently states that face coverings are not classified as PPE*, saying that there is no need currently to conform to a manufacturing standard.**
PPE (personal protective equipment) includes items such as surgical masks or respirators, which the government define as items that are used to protect wearers against hazards and risks.*
This is why Protecting.co.uk are advocating for laws to be passed in order to standardise what can be used as a face covering in order to provide the best protection for the UK public from Covid-19.
Company spokesman Mark Hall says, “To hear that no manufacturing standards are required is quite alarming, people are venturing out and about doing their weekly shop and using public transport completely unaware that their face mask may not be working efficiently.
“This is why we need a new law ensuring all face coverings are made to the same specification, with penalties such as fines for those caught wearing a face covering that isn’t up to standard.”
At present, the guidelines call for your mouth and nose to be ‘efficiently’ covered, allowing items such as scarves, bandanas, religious garments, and handmade cloth coverings, as long as they are secure to your head.*
Hall: “Already we can see just how flexible these guidelines are, there’s a lot of room for negotiation as to what can be used as a face mask which can put the wearer at risk of infection.
“Pulling your scarf up and over your mouth and nose might actually be causing more harm than good, and let’s be real, how often are you washing your scarf?”
Why are there rules for some masks, but not for all?
Many people working in professions such as the NHS and trades follow much stricter PPE guidelines in order to keep them safe at work.
This includes the use of surgical face masks, respirators, and dust masks, which keep the wearer protected from breathing in harmful small particles such as asbestos.
However, surgical face masks are not considered to be PPE when worn outside of healthcare activities, despite being manufactured to a recognised standard.**
Hall: “It’s fair enough that our phenomenal healthcare workers are provided with face masks which are held to manufacturing standards, but the risk of infection for the public can be just as high.
“Surely the best way to prevent widespread transmission is to make sure everyone is wearing a mask which is up to spec.”
The government disagrees and says that for the majority of workers in non-health and social care settings, practising good hygiene and social distancing is the best way to minimise risk.***
Hall: “This is not enough when we are dealing with this virus. If you look at some of the laws they have in place for other things that require PPE such as paint spraying, then ‘wear any old mask’ just doesn’t cut it and provides zero safety.”
For Protecting.co.uk it’s clear that there need’s to be definitive laws when it comes to face masks and coverings, instead of a list of potentially confusing guidelines and recommendations.
Hall: “We need these laws to make it easier for people to stay safe – all we want is to know we are being protected from the virus.”