Why PPE masks are important and how to use them properly

Image of PPE mask

Although the majority of us are confined to our homes right now, if you’ve taken advantage of your 1-hour of outdoor exercise or visited your local supermarket, you’ll have seen your fair share of people wearing PPE face masks. If you don’t have one, you might be wondering whether you should be wearing one – or, if you’re still working, should you be wearing one at work? 

As a critical supplier of PPE for healthcare organisations during the pandemic – including face masks for the NHS – we felt it was apt for us to dispel some of the myths surrounding face masks. In this article, we’ll be covering why PPE masks are important, who should wear them and when, as well as how to use them properly.

Why PPE masks are important

PPE face masks are nothing new. They’ve been a vital PPE item in a number of industries for some time. Although you’ll be most familiar with seeing surgeons wearing them, they’re also used in industries where there’s a risk of inhaling hazardous substances. 

That said, wearing a mask isn’t enough to prevent the spread of coronavirus. As noted by the World Health Organisation: “In the absence of effective administrative and engineering controls, PPE has limited benefit.” (Source WHO). 

So, if you’re wearing a mask, without following other important health and safety measures – like washing your hands, coughing and sneezing into tissues, reducing how often you touch your face and keeping a 2m distance from others – a PPE mask alone will have limited effectiveness. This is because coronavirus isn’t only spread through airborne particles, it’s also able to survive on surfaces, which, if touched, could contaminate you.

At present, “the World Health Organization and the UK government both say that masks aren’t recommended for everyone to wear.” (Source BBC). This is because, if safe 2m social distancing is being practised, alongside other recommended health and safety guidelines, the probability of contracting coronavirus through airborne particles is minimised.

The current advice is that face masks should be worn by “staff working in care homes, prisons and other community settings as well as in GP surgeries or hospitals.” (Source BBC). Although, this advice is in constant review as both the Government and the WHO learn more about the virus.

How to wear a PPE face mask

If you do choose to wear a face mask or to distribute face masks to your teams that aren’t able to work from home, it’s important that both you and those who work for you know how they should be wearing them. Face masks won’t be effective if they’re not worn properly.

The image below, taken from The World Health Organisation, outlines the proper way to wear a mask to ensure you maximise their effectiveness in helping to prevent the spread of infection.

(Source WHO)

Wrap-up

Hopefully, this article has helped clarify your understanding of why PPE face masks are important and how to properly wear one. 

If you belong to an organisation that’s struggling to get hold of the necessary PPE equipment you need to operate safely, we currently have a range of PPE items – including PPE face masks and shields – that we’re able to provide quickly and in bulk. You can view the full range here

Use the contact form below to get in contact with a member of our supply team who will be happy to assist you. Or, alternatively, get in touch with me, the in house expert in healthcare supply, on apaterson@streamlinecorporate.com.

Stay safe.