Behind the mask

In the Government’s roadmap plan released in mid-May they advised that ‘people should aim to wear a face covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible and they come into contact with others that they do not normally meet’. This means that many of us need to consider wearing a face mask of some description when we’re returning to and travelling to work. Many of our industry businesses have turned to manufacturing face masks or sourcing them for wider industry use – for either general wear or medical specific. We share some of their stories here. We know there are many more who are doing this so please get in contact so we can keep the industry aware of all the supply chain options.

In order to meet the current increased hygiene requirements, Christeyns UK are gearing up to help with the increased need for laundering of PPE, in particular re-usable, fabric face masks.

These masks will need washing and disinfecting on a regular basis and may form part of the future workstream for industrial laundering. Such masks are generally constructed from polyester cotton with an elastic rubber band. To achieve the recommended thermal disinfection, Christeyns advise the use of a PAA based bleach, such as Peracid Forte, followed by two rinses to ensure all chemical residue is removed and to ward against any allergy reaction. It is the elastic that will provide the challenge as high temperatures and chemicals mean such a product does not withstand repeated industrial laundering. This will be one consideration for mask manufacturers and the other challenge, for all parties, will be how to get the mask back to the owner.

“There are a number of ways of dealing with this issue and laundries will need to work with suppliers to find the best solution,” comments Justin Kerslake, operations director at Christeyns. “Best practice would be for each mask to go back to the original wearer, making use of current named wearer systems such as barcoding. Face masks could also be laundered in their own named bag or in soluble red bags. This will be a new learning curve for us as chemical suppliers and for the launderers but with our combined knowledge, we can find the best solution to ensure a system that is both hygienic and practical.”

A new company, SaferMask Group, has been formed by the amalgamation of three long-established businesses with the sole task of helping to quell the rise of coronavirus and protect workers in laundries.

SaferMask Group has reached an exclusive distribution agreement with the world’s leading textile manufacturing company to market thei r protective, community face masks throughout the UK. The three-layer masks have been extensively tested and accredited by the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) for anti-bacterial performance and water repellency and by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) for bacterial filtration and differential pressure.

SaferMasks are ideal for laundries because they are reusable and fully washable. Each of the two masks that comprise one pack are designed to be worn for 30 days and washed daily. The wash/ wear cycle between the two masks means that a pack of two will therefore last 60 days reducing the cost to less than half the price of a typical single use mask. SaferMasks are cotton-based and are easy to apply and comfortable to wear for long periods of time.

Linen Connect are working with some of the world’s top manufacturers and are able to source high quality KN95 and disposable protective masks.

Their masks meet the recommendations set out by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other bodies for protection against bacteria and viruses. The KN95 masks are CE/FDA approved, and comply with the stringent GB2626-2006 standards for respiratory protection. Five layers of high quality material, and currently in use in businesses and healthcare settings around the world. Their disposable masks are CE/ FDA approved, and comply with the stringent EN 16483 standard (more commonly seen in healthcare).

Both masks are designed to limit the transmission of infective agents, but are ergonomically designed for maximum comfort and practicality in the workplace (giving little to no breathing resistance). They are made of lightweight breathable materials, using the latest bonding technology for added strength and comfort. Whether you need a small order to protect your team or need millions of units per month for large enterprise, their factory partners have the capacity to serve, and Linen Connect are already supplying industry worldwide.

Vision Support Services in partnership with its sister brand WestPoint Home, has been producing reusable face masks using a proprietary healthcare textile that offers an increase level of protection.

These face masks have been supplied to front line healthcare workers, police, emergency and transit workers, and are now on offer to support the reawakening of the hospitality industry. Vision have three types of face masks: a reusable, washable three ply cotton, folded style face masks with added antimicrobial protection under its Microshield brand; a reusable, washable mask branded under WestPoint’s Martex Health label that provide a basic level of protection, designed for everyday use with the added antimicrobial technology; and their medical grade/professional N95 masks for the highest level of protection. The N95 respirator filters out at least 95 per cent of very small particles and the masks are GB2626-2006 KN95 compliant.

CanDo Laundry Services are manufacturing face masks at their site in Wales, with the capacity to produce 10,000 a week.

Their masks are reusable and washable up to 200+ times and suitable for all non-medical environments. Made from a 70 per cent cotton/ 30 per cent polyester and free of latex and glue, the masks are comfortable and flexible and come as two or three ply. The design is a universal fit with elasticated straps. Managing director Dan Shepherd says: “I truly believe face covering will be crucial in the effort to continue to reduce lockdown measures. “Our masks are a low cost, environmentally friendly prevention to reduce the spread of this virus and safeguard others. We’re taking orders and can post anywhere in the world. We can even provide a rental and laundry service as a total no hassle solution to your organisation.”

The UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT) is working to support the government to increase the availability of PPE.

They say it is estimated that global demand for PPE has grown by 1,000 per cent in the past few weeks. They have informed us about their associate member Vetigraph who have produced a range of patterns for PPE, including scrubs, gowns, face masks, boiler suits, headwear and plastic face shields in A4, A0, and Vetigraph PLT files, which are available free of charge. The UKFT say it is vital that all PPE is made from the appropriate material otherwise the protection given by items could be compromised. If you’d like to get involved you can find more information on the UKFT website.

BC SoftWear is a small, family run business who are agile and they have developed a reputation for being able to respond quickly to customers needs. So, it wasn’t long before a few customers were enquiring about the possibility for BC SoftWear to supply face masks. Following a quick customer survey to establish demand, the company moved all the stops to design and deliver a high quality and exceptional value face mask that their customers in the hotel, laundry and spa sectors could rely upon.

This washable mask is made from 100% natural cotton and composed of three layers. The outer and inner layers are made of cotton with a protective synthetic fabric middle layer, which provides improved breathability and protection from moisture and droplets. This mask will help provide a level of air filtration. The mask has a sculpted shape and has a soft wire to make it more comfortable and fitted to wear. The fabric is 100% soft cotton in a neutral colour, Soft Grey, with a seamed edge. The middle protection layer is made from a non-woven bonded fabric to help with air filtration. The mask has black adjustable and elasticated ear loops and is a generous size. 21 cm x 14cm

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