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PPE: Concern over poor quality KN95 face masks

23 June 2020

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recently issued a Safety Alert regarding designated KN95 face masks (also known as filtering facepiece respirators). A substantial number of such masks have been found to provide an inadequate level of protection. These are likely to be poor quality products accompanied by fake or fraudulent paperwork.

Safety Bulletin: Use of face masks designated KN95 on the UK HSE website

A range of different types of KN95 masks have recently been found in Jersey, these masks have all been voluntarily withdrawn from sale following advice from the Health and Safety Inspectorate (HSI). Initial evaluation of the masks and associated certification has identified that none were able to demonstrate compliance with the necessary safety assessments to be used as PPE. Although some of the masks have a CE marking it is considered highly unlikely that this is genuine, although enquiries continue.

Anybody supplying or selling KN95 masks should stop doing so immediately and contact the HSI for advice.

When sourcing or buying any PPE, and filtering face masks in particular (for example those designated KN95, N95, FFP2, FFP3), robust steps must be taken to ensure they meet the necessary standards to be lawfully placed on the EU market. This includes checking the product and the accompanying certification. Those supplied by a Chinese operation requires additional scrutiny due to the well-recognised and widespread use of fake documents originating from that country.

Further information

The HSI will be publishing further guidance on how to check that facemasks and other items of PPE are valid shortly.

In the meantime the following links provide a wealth of information on counterfeit respirators known to be circulating in the EU.

EU guidance on suspicious certificates for PPE on the ESF website

Guidance on counterfeit respirators:N95 designation on the USA CDC website

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