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BSI launches Kitemark for face coverings to boost consumer confidence

Tom Shearsmith
17 July 2020

As face coverings increasingly become part of our everyday lives, BSI, the business improvement company, has today launched a BSI Kitemark for Face Coverings.

The British Standards Institution (BSI) is the national standards body of the United Kingdom. BSI produces technical standards on a wide range of products and services, and also supplying certification and standards-related services to businesses.

The new Kitemark assesses face coverings to a technical specification that requires 70% particle filtration and breathability tests to ensure consumer comfort whilst reducing the risk of spreading infection.

Face coverings differ from PPE and medical grade face masks in that they are intended to protect those in close proximity to the wearer, not the wearer themselves.

Whilst a vast number of face coverings are already available on the market, their performance and design may differ significantly. On top of breathability and filtering, the new BSI Kitemark for Face Coverings provides independent approval of the quality of the fitting, and the instructions provided to the wearer to minimise the chances of transmission.

Howard Kerr, Chief Executive of BSI, comments: “There is an overwhelming choice of face coverings available in the market. The challenge is knowing which claims they make are valid and whether they provide a basic level of protection to others. Face coverings that are independently assessed to schemes such as the Kitemark will allow consumers to make an informed and trusted decision.

“As we continue to pull together as a country to combat the impact of COVID-19, it is important that we all take appropriate measures to protect one another. Whilst a face covering can never provide the same level of personal protection as a PPE or medical grade face mask, it is neither necessary nor appropriate for such products to be diverted to general consumer use.

"Providing consumers with confidence that their face covering provides some level of protection for those around them will help reduce the spread of the virus whilst we emerge from lockdown.”

UK manufacturers, Cookson and Clegg are one of the first organisations to be in the final stages of assessment to achieve the BSI Kitemark for Face Coverings. It is expected that the first face coverings with the Kitemark will be available from late July.

Patrick Grant, Director, Blackburn based Cookson & Clegg, comments: “Everyone knows the Kitemark and knows that its stands for quality. For 160 years Cookson & Clegg has been in the business of manufacturing the highest quality sewn products for customers from the MoD to Burberry.

"Throughout this pandemic our factory in Blackburn has been making scrubs, gowns and face coverings for the NHS and others and we are delighted to be one of the first manufacturers to receive the coveted BSI Kitemark for our product.”

Like all BSI Kitemark schemes, the new face coverings will be tested on an ongoing basis to ensure that manufactured products continue to meet the necessary requirements, year after year, in order to be trusted.

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