face mask senior woman

With mobility retailers continuing to sell face masks as part of their core product offering, the BSI (British Standards Institution) has announced it has created a new Kitemark for face coverings to enable consumers to make more informed purchasing decisions.

It comes as face coverings become an integral part of everyday life, with consumers in England being required to wear them in shops from tomorrow and already being required to wear them in Scotland.

As government policy has changed to adopt face coverings, a flood of products have entered the market, with the BSI highlighting that the quality and performance differs widely across the spectrum of different available face coverings.

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The new Kitemark will assess face coverings to a technical specification requiring 70 per cent particle filtration and breathability tests to ensure consumer comfort whilst reducing the risk of spreading infection.

Alongside breathability and filtering, the new face coverings Kitemark will provide independent approval of the quality of the fitting and the instructions provided to the wearer to minimise the chances of transmission.

Howard Kerr, Chief Executive of BSI, commented: “There is an overwhelming choice of face coverings available in the market. The challenge is knowing which claims they make are valid and whether they provide a basic level of protection to others.

“Face coverings that are independently assessed to schemes such as the Kitemark will allow consumers to make an informed and trusted decision.”

According to the BSI, the first products bearing the new Kitemark will be from late July. UK manufacturers Cookson & Clegg and Rototherm are among the first organisations confirmed to be in the final stages of assessment to achieve the Kitemark.

Tarkan Conger, Owner of British Rototherm, commented: “As a leading manufacturer of high-quality face visors to help protect frontline workers, our specialist PPE division Rotomedical recognizes the importance of following best practices and the benefits of testing and certification. Moving into face coverings means that we’re dealing with a new range of buyers, and in this arena, the BSI Kitemark is clearly understood and recognised as the mark of trust.”

Notably, face coverings differ from PPE and medical-grade face masks in that they are intended to protect those in close proximity to the wearer and not the wearer themselves.

BSI CEO Kerr finished: “As we continue to pull together as a country to combat the impact of COVID-19, it is important that we all take appropriate measures to protect one another. Whilst a face covering can never provide the same level of personal protection as a PPE or medical grade face mask, it is neither necessary nor appropriate for such products to be diverted to general consumer use.

“Providing consumers with confidence that their face covering provides some level of protection for those around them will help reduce the spread of the virus whilst we emerge from lockdown.”

The national standards body for the UK, the BSI is responsible for generating technical standards on a wide range of products and services in the healthcare and mobility sector.

Its BSI Kitemark is a quality mark owned and operated by the organisation, acting as a recognisable symbol of quality.

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