23 June 2020
The Health and Safety Inspectorate (HSI) has taken action regarding the sale and use of face masks which are labelled KN95, after the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued a Safety Alert on their use.
The warning comes after the HSE found that a substantial number of face masks, claiming to be of KN95 standard, do not provide adequate levels of protection and are likely to be poor quality products accompanied by fake or fraudulent paperwork.
The HSI has contacted Jersey retailers that have been selling face masks. Where they were found to have KN95 masks on sale, they were instructed to remove all remaining stock from sale pending further enquiries. Whilst there was immediate cooperation from all concerned, it is suspected that there may be other suppliers of face masks unknown to the HSI who need to urgently review their stock and stop supplying or selling any face masks labelled KN95 with immediate effect, and contact the HSI for advice.
Filtering facepiece respirators, such as the face masks labelled KN95, worn as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for protection against COVID-19, is generally only required for certain healthcare activities. In a non-clinical setting, a lower standard of respiratory protection would usually be adequate.
The public continue to be advised to use cloth masks or other mouth and nose coverings in public places, especially indoors to reduce the risk of spreading airborne particles. Advice on using cloth masks is available on the Government of Jersey website.
Tammy Fage, Director of Health and Safety commented: "As soon as we became aware of the Safety Alert issued by the UK HSE, we commenced our own investigation and have collected samples of various KN95 masks from different businesses. In all cases of the masks analyzed to date, we have been unable to demonstrate compliance with the necessary safety assessments to be used as proper PPE. Although some of these have a CE marking on the mask, initial enquires are highly suggestive that this mark may not be genuine, although enquiries continue.
"The affected face masks are sold under a range of brand names. However, they will be labelled KN95 on the packaging, or on each individual mask. Any Islander, who has bought KN95 face masks is advised not to use them. Any retailer selling the KN95 that has not been contacted by the HSI, must remove all stock of the masks from sale immediately and asked to contact us at the Health and Safety Inspectorate using the firstname.lastname@example.org mailbox."
The UK Health and Safety Executive bulletin is available online.
Further information from the Health and Safety Inspectorate regarding COVID-19 working practicing can be found here.
Further information on Personal Protective Equipment in the context of COVID-19 can be found here.