Last reviewed 16 March 2021

The British Standards Institution (BSI) has welcomed the public comments it received to a consultation on a new community face coverings standard.

BSI, in its role as the UK National Standards Body, brought together a UK Advisory Group of expert healthcare, consumer and retail representatives to develop the specification.

The feedback has been used in its updating of the standard to include new environmental considerations as well as enhanced guidance on labelling, cleaning, fitting, fastening and breathing resistance.

Available without charge on the BSI website, the standard on minimum performance requirements and test methods for community face coverings is designed to help UK manufacturers and testing houses to ensure single-use and reusable face coverings are safe and fit for purpose.

"Its publication coincides with the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions across the UK, where due to the Covid-19 pandemic, people are wearing face coverings to reduce the projection of exhaled air and the spread of infection," the BSI noted.

These coverings are designed to offer a level of protection for those around the wearer, but they can also limit penetration by respiratory droplets from another person into the wearer's nose and mouth.

A face covering can also minimise the amount of times that wearers touch their nose and mouth.

The standard is a BSI Flex document, a new type of standard that is best suited to areas where there is a need to rapidly iterate and update content as best practice emerges. BSI Flex Standards are developed using repeated cycles of iteration and new versions, developed through a consensus-building process.