Masks in Construction Explained (UK only)

SHOULD I WEAR A MASK IF I AM WORKING ON A CONSTRUCTION SITE? 

[Advice Dated 14th April 2020] 

Currently, the advice from Construction Leadership Council, who create the Site Operating Procedures (SOP) are based on Public Health England (PHE) guidance, is that Respiratory Protective Equipment or RPE should not be used on sites for Coronavirus (COVID-19) where the 2 meter social distancing rules are met.

However, if these conditions can not be met then they recommend a risk assessment be done by the hierarchy of controls, and using any sector specific guidance, but they do state that masks or RPE, should only be used as a last resort in the hierarchy.

Obviously this does not override standard HSE guidance that stipulates the use of RPE due to the nature of work being carried out.

Download Site operating procedures (SOP)

Masks in construction…What type should i use?

In Europe, Respirators must meet the European standard EN 149: 2001 which has three classes of disposable particulate respirators (FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3).

  • FFP1 refers to the least filtering of the three masks with an aerosol filtration of at least 80% and leakage to the inside of maximum 22%. This mask is mainly used as a dust mask (home renovations and various types of work).
  • FFP2 masks have a minimum of 94% filtration percentage and maximum 8% leakage to the inside. They are mainly used in construction, agriculture, and by healthcare professionals against influenza viruses. They are currently being used for protection against the coronavirus.
  • FFP3 masks are the most filtering mask of the FFPs. With a minimum filtration percentage of 99% and maximum 2% leakage to the inside, they protect against very fine particles such as asbestos.

The UK recommends the use of FFP3 respirators when caring for patients in areas where high risk aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) are being performed. When FFP3 respirators are not available, then FFP2 respirators may be used.

The World Health Organisation(WHO) recommends FFP2 and N95 respirators for AGPs and these are widely used in other countries. The N95 respirator is not CE marked but has been tested against standards similar to European standards.

More information can be found at HSE here.

Advice is current as of 20th April 2020 for UK only, please check the links above for the relevant organisation’s most up to date advice for masks in construction.