Last reviewed 13 January 2021

BSI, in its role as the UK’s National Standards Body, has published a new standard for community face coverings (BSI Flex 5555 v1.0) to help UK manufacturers, testing houses, retailers and consumers.

The aim of the draft specification, which is available for comment, is to ensure single-use and reusable face coverings are safe and fit for purpose.

The specification is intended to become a consensus of good practice and BSI encourages people from across business and civil society to have their say, and share their learnings and insight, to help protect public health

Community Face Coverings. Specification is a fast-tracked BSI Flex agreement, being developed through a consensus-building process.

BSI Flex documents are a new type of standard, created 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.

Scott Steedman, Director-General Standards at BSI, said: “In the fight against Covid, face coverings have become an everyday part of life to help reduce the spread of infection”.

With so many suppliers providing face coverings on the market, he went on, it was vital that BSI as the National Standards Body should develop an agreed set of performance requirements to increase public confidence that those they use may be fit for purpose.

The deadline for submitting comments on the specification is 1 February 2021 and a second version, that will have benefitted from public comments and input from a Review Panel of related standards committee members and other interested parties, is expected to be published later that month.

The specification

The new standard aims to provide:

  • minimum performance requirements for manufacturers with regard to filtration and transmission and use of materials intrinsically safe for face coverings

  • general information on single and multi-use face coverings, plus cleaning requirements for multi-use coverings

  • a method of test for testing houses

  • reassurance for retailers and consumers.

Community Face Coverings. Specification does not cover personal protective equipment (PPE) or medical face coverings, nor does it address DIY coverings or transparent face coverings.