Face masks: not just for covid

Written by C Wolsey

Face masks aren’t just useful for stopping the spread of covid and other infectious diseases: they can be used to keep you safe in the construction and DIY industries too. Indeed, without protection, working on a construction site can lead to lung problems. Asbestos-related diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, lung cancer and silicosis are all linked to construction. Below, we explore different face masks and how to check if they’re of a high standard.

Regulations for surgical face masks

Understandably, the demand for surgical face masks surged during the pandemic. However, not all of the masks we used provided the best protection possible from infectious disease. Legal jurisdictions have similar rules and standards for surgical face masks across the world. They need to efficiently filter out bacteria while remaining breathable and splash resistant. 

Health risks in construction

Construction also carries with it health risks that are serious enough that you should use personal protective equipment (PPE). For a start, there’s the risk of exposure to hazardous substances such as asbestos. This material causes a range of fatal or chronic lung issues and the construction industry is often prone to heavy exposure. At the same time, fragments of abrasive materials – such as wood dust or silica dust – can also irritate the lungs, leading to occupational asthma or silicosis. Given the risks, construction workers should wear masks as often as possible. 

Different masks and when to use them

There are different types of face masks to be used in different situations though. It’s worth understanding the different types to see which ones you might benefit from. For a start, simple face coverings are best for those with symptoms of an infectious disease to avoid spreading it to other people. Meanwhile, the next step up is an FFP3 disposable face mask – designed to protect the user from harmful particles and disease. Then there are more sophisticated masks that can protect from gas and vapours too. Filtered masks and air-purifying respirators provide some of the most comprehensive protection you can find on the market.

How to check if your mask is up to standards

When you purchase a mask for construction or to protect yourself from infection, it’s important that you know it meets the required standards. By checking the markings on the mask, you can see whether your mask meets European safety standards and whether it’s reusable or disposable. 

Wearing a mask can keep you safe in a range of contexts. But it’s particularly important in construction and DIY. By following the guide above, you should be all set to get yourself the appropriate mask to keep yourself safe and sound.