Masks for industry

Why are FFP masks worn in industry?

FFP masks are worn in various industries to protect against substances in the air that are hazardous to health.

In the metal industry, masks prevent various types of metal smoke, sparks and dust from entering the respiratory tract, which can be caused, for example, by welding or cutting. But FFP masks are also used in the construction industry and in waste disposal and agriculture because they can provide protection against solid and liquid particles in the form of smoke, droplets, dust and sparks.

Among the substances that FFP masks protect against are pathogens such as bacteria or viruses, which is why they are also worn in the healthcare sector. The most commonly-used FFP masks are particle filtering FFP masks, which are available in protection classes FFP 1, FFP 2 and FFP 3. A higher protection class means that the mask filters harmful substances from the air more effectively and has a lower total leakage, which is the sum of all leakage points of the mask. In specific terms, this means that the FFP 3 mask filters at least 99% of the particles in the air up to a size of 0.6 μm and has a total leakage of max. 5%, whereas the FFP 1 mask in comparison only filters 80% of the particles of the same size and may have a total leakage of max. 25%. Accordingly, FFP masks of a higher protection class can be used in an environment with substances that are more harmful to health and a higher concentration of harmful substances. FFP masks without a valve filter both the inhaled and exhaled air and therefore offer protection for the wearer and those around them.

The protection classes and reusability are marked on the body of the mask. FFP masks marked with "R" (reusable) can be reused after appropriate disinfection (see manufacturer's instructions). "NR" (non reusable) indicates that the mask must be disposed of after one shift. In addition to the protection classes, the masks also differ in other properties. They can be equipped with a breathing valve, which offers lower breathing resistance and more comfort, or they can have an additional carbon layer to protect against unpleasant odours.

What other types of masks are there besides the "FFP masks“ ?

Mark your mask

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, wearing a mask in the workplace is one of the new safety rules that many companies have implemented to protect their employees and prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus at work. Even those who previously had no direct contact with substances that are harmful to health must now wear a face mask. It depends on the company whether it has to be a cloth face mask, mouth and nose protection or an FFP mask.

In order to avoid mix-ups and to ensure that everyone wears only their own mask, it is important to be able to distinguish between the masks. This must also be observed for hygiene reasons, as disinfection is not possible (see no. of the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) regulation 112-190). With the edding 8040 laundry marker, for example, the wearer’s initials can be written on the mask to ensure additional safety.

The masks can be marked in three different ways with the wearer’s initials or name (please note the manufacturer's instructions). The marking can be added:

  1. on the retaining strap
  2. on the plastic valve (if present)
  3. on a small piece of plaster (e.g. Leukosilk) with an abbreviated name which is then stuck on the outside of the mask

It is recommended to mark everyday masks, reusable FFP masks (marked “R”) and non-reusable FFP masks (marked “NR”, but they still have to be put on and taken off several times within one shift). The front and back of everyday masks are often indistinguishable, so marking one side may prevent the previously worn and potentially contaminated side from being put on the mouth later.

The Robert Koch Institute also recommends labelling so that used masks can be clearly assigned to one person to prevent them being worn by other people. So a small mark with the edding 8040 laundry marker can make a considerable difference to safety in the workplace.

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edding 8040 laundry marker

The markings are wash-resistant up to 95°C and are permanent on almost all textiles, as well as being gentle on natural and synthetic materials. The fine nib enables individual and precise labelling, even when space is limited. The mask is best washed at a temperature of up to 95°C before using. FFP masks and surgical masks made of cellulose should not be washed, as the filtering efficiency would otherwise decrease significantly.

edding 4500 textile marker

Almost all light-coloured textiles can be decorated in 20 different colours using the edding 4500. The water-based pigment ink is odourless, quick-drying and extremely lightfast. After fixing with an iron (without steam), the ink is washable up to 60°C and the mask should be washed at this temperature before the first usage. FFP masks and surgical masks made of cellulose should not be washed, as the filtering efficiency would otherwise decrease significantly.