Clinician wearing PPE with a patient

PPE information to help keep you safe in the fight against COVID-19

  • We are fully committed to helping fight the spread of COVID-19 by supporting healthcare workers with the appropriate protection. We are doing everything we can to support public health, including doubling our global output of respirators and getting them to healthcare providers on the front lines of the pandemic.

General information about PPE

  • Clinician wearing PPE speaking with a patient

    PPE Questions and Considerations

    We know you have questions related to PPE. We are here to provide guidance on the different types of PPE and its proper use.

  • Clinician wearing PPE speaking with a patient

    Optimisation of PPE

    With supply challenges around the world, many facilities are looking to optimise their equipment.

  • Clinician wearing PPE with patient

    PPE and Skin Protection

    Explore some simple ways you can minimise skin breakdown from the extended use of PPE.


Clinician wearing PPE speaking with a patient
PPE Questions and Considerations

We are here to answer your questions on using a Surgical Respirator or Surgical Mask, fit checking and other considerations to help protect yourself. We will continue to update site with new information.

Frequently asked questions on PPE use and equipment

  • What is the difference between a procedure mask and a surgical mask?

    Procedure masks are loose fitting and designed to help reduce particles expelled by the wearer.

    Surgical masks are also loose fitting and designed to protect the patient from particles expelled from the wearer, in addition they can be used as a fluid barrier.

    Learn More

  • Filtering Facepiece Respirators are designed to help reduce the wearer’s exposure to airborne particles.

    Learn More

  • Masks often fit loosely, leaving gaps between the mask and your face. Fit test requirements do not apply as masks are not designed to reduce wearer exposure to airborne particulates.

    Filtering Facepiece respirators are designed to fit tightly, creating a seal between your face and the respirator. Requires fit testing and user seal checks.

    Learn More

  • An elastomeric respirator is a reusable piece of personal protective equipment with exchangeable cartridge filters.

    The cartridge filters, when exposed to a bioaerosol, are normally single use – but when used against industrial contaminants they may be re-usable. However, the masks are designed to fit tightly to face and are able to be cleaned and reused.

    When properly selected and worn, reusable respirators (mask with cartridge filters) effectively filter airborne particulate hazards.

    Learn More

  • PAPRs are a type of respirator that use a blower to force the ambient air through air-purifying elements. When properly selected and worn, PAPRs effectively filter airborne particulate hazards. They are designed to fit over some facial hair and they are available in a variety of styles and facepiece/headtop offerings.

    Learn More

  • In the majority of European countries there is no time limit to wearing a Filtering Facepiece respirator. Respirators can be worn until they are dirty, damaged or difficult to breathe through. Check local / national regulations and your own organisation’s infection control policies.

    Learn More

  • A homemade mask may help wearers remember not to touch their nose and mouth, and it may help contain spit or phlegm expelled by the wearer, similar to covering a cough or sneeze with a face tissue.

    However, homemade masks do not serve as respiratory protection and may not provide any measurable exposure reduction. They are not designed to reduce wearer’s exposure to airborne particulates, like government-approved respirators are.

  • N95, FFP2, FFP3 and similar respirators are designed to form a seal with the face. When a good seal is formed almost all of the air goes through the filter media. The filter media in filtering facepiece respirators uses non-woven fibrous filter media to capture particles. These fibres crisscross to form a web of many layers. Particles are trapped, or captured, by several different mechanisms as the airstream flows through the layers of filter media. Very large particles in the airstream will settle out due to gravity, other particles may impact a fibre and be captured, and very small particles are captured by diffusion.

    In Europe, filtering facepiece respirators are tested against EN 149:2001+A1:2009 and certified to the Personal Protective Equipment Regulation (EU) 2016/425. EN 149 includes many physical and performance factors including filtration efficiency, breathing resistance and total inward leakage. Tested and approved EN 149 tested respirators have a filtration efficiency of at least 94% for FFP2 and 99% for FFP3.

    In the US, respirator performance is tested and certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). NIOSH certifies particulate respirators based on many physical and performance factors including filtration efficiency. N95 respirators have a filtration efficiency of at least 95% against non-oily particles when tested using the NIOSH criteria.

  • Tips to help avoid counterfeit products include:


    • 3M respirators should be sold only in 3M packaging, with model-specific user instructions accompanying the product.
    • 3M respirators should not be sold individually or without packaging (including User Instructions).
    • 3M has strict quality standards, and therefore products that have missing straps, strange odors, blocked valves, misspelled words, etc. are likely not authentic 3M respirators

    3M recommends purchasing our products only from a 3M authorized distributor or dealer, as that will increase the likelihood that you will receive authentic 3M products.


Respiratory protection in healthcare

  • how to wear a respirator

    How to safely wear a respirator

  • patient and doctor with a stethoscope

    Webinar: How to ensure the safe use of respirators in clinical settings

    At the end of this 30 minute course, you will be able to:

    1. Explain the differences between a respirator and a surgical face mask.

    2. Understand the importance of a good seal around your respirator.

    3. Apply and remove respirators safely.

    Click the registration link below to access the webinar on demand

Clinician wearing PPE speaking with a patient
Optimisation of PPE

With supply challenges around the world, many facilities are looking to optimise their equipment. Read information on use of FFP2/FFP3 respirators.

Frequently asked questions on use of filtering face piece respirators

  • Is there a time limit to wearing standard and medical filtering facepiece respirators?

    In the majority of European countries there is no time limit to wearing a Filtering Facepiece respirator. Respirators can be worn until they are dirty, damaged or difficult to breathe through. Check local / national regulations and your own organisation’s infection control policies.

    Learn More

  • 3M does not recommend reuse of disposable masks or filtering facepiece respirators. Particles containing viruses, bacteria, etc. get captured on the filtering facepiece respirator filter fibers during use and remain on the fibers after use. Handling or storing the respirator might result in further spreading the disease.

    Learn More

  • To be effective, a respirator needs to be worn correctly and worn throughout the duration of the hazardous exposure.

    Don:
     

    1. Hold the respirator in the palm of your hand with the straps facing the floor (If using a flat fold respirator; pull open the folds into a cup shape before placing in the palm of your hand).
    2. Place the filtering facepiece respirator on your face covering your nose and mouth.
    3. Pull the bottom strap up and over the top of your head and place at the back of your head below your ears.
    4. Pull the upper strap up and over top of your head and put it behind your head at the crown of your head.
    5. Use both hands to mould the nosepiece to fit snugly against your nose and face.
    6. Perform a seal check according to manufacturer instructions to ensure there is a good seal against the skin.
       

    Doff: Do NOT touch the front of the respirator.
     

    1. Tilt your head forward. Then, use two hands to grab the bottom strap, pull to the sides, then over your head.
    2. Use both hands to grab the upper strap, pull to the sides, then over your head. Keep tension on the upper strap as you remove it, which will let the mask fall forward and be removed.

    Learn More

  • Re-Don:
     

    1. Wash hands per facility protocol
    2. Apply clean gloves
    3. Inspect respirator for holes, tears or other damage or soiling to surface, straps, metal nose strip and nose foam. Get a new respirator if damaged or soiled.
    4. Hold the respirator in the palm of your hand with the straps facing the floor (If using a flat fold respirator; pull open the folds into a cup shape before placing in the palm of your hand).
    5. Place the filtering facepiece respirator on your face covering your nose and mouth. Avoid touching the inside of the respirator.
    6. Pull the upper strap and put it behind your head and place at the back of your head.
    7. Pull the bottom strap up and over top of your head and put it behind your head below your ears.
    8. Use both hands to mould the nosepiece to fit snugly against your nose and face. Perform a seal check according to manufacturer instructions to ensure there is a good seal against the skin.Wash hands per facility protocol
    9. Remove and discard gloves. Wash hands per facility protocol.

    Doff for storage and reuse:
     

    1. Wash hands per facility protocol
    2. Apply clean gloves
    3. Tilt your head forward. Then, with gloves on, use two hands to grab the bottom strap, pull to the sides, then over your head.
    4. Use both hands to grab the upper strap, pull to the sides, then over your head. Keep tension on the upper strap as you remove it, which will let the mask fall forward and be removed.
    5. Inspect respirator for holes, tears or other damage or soiling to surface, straps, metal nose strip and nose foam. Discard respirator if damaged or soiled.
    6. Place respirator in facility approved storage for reuse* and wash hands per facility protocol.

    Tips for Using a Filtering Facepiece Respirator Video

  • The US CDC provided guidance for used respirator storage: Hang used respirators in a designated storage area or keep them in a clean, breathable container such as a paper bag between uses.

    To minimise potential cross-contamination, store respirators so that they do not touch each other and the person using the respirator is clearly identified. Storage containers should be disposed of or cleaned regularly.

    Learn More


Clinician wearing PPE with patient

PPE and Skin Protection

Extended use of PPE, particularly devices like respirators and face shields, may impact skin and cause various levels of skin breakdown. Explore some simple ways you can help minimise skin breakdown when delivery care.

Adequate fit and seal of filtering facepiece respirators, such as FFP2/FFP3 respirators, with the skin are required to provide expected and effective exposure reduction. The proper seal helps ensure that the majority of inhaled air will travel through the respirator’s filter material. Anything that disrupts the fit and seal of the respirator will result in a reduction in the level of protection that the wearer can achieve with this type of PPE.

Helping you face the challenge


Frequently asked questions on preventing PPE-related skin injuries

  • Can I use ointments (e.g. petroleum jelly) to protect my skin under a 3M filtering facepiece respirator (FFR)?

    3M does not recommend the use of petroleum jelly (also known as petrolatum), ointments, or thick creams because of the potential for interference with the seal of any of 3M’s respirators. Petroleum jelly may cause the respirator to slip around on the face.

  • Yes, Cavilon No Sting Barrier Film will help protect intact skin from moisture and friction and, when used properly, would not be expected to interfere with the fit1 of 3M respirators.


    • The 1ml wipe or 1ml wand applicator should be used
    • The product should be applied to clean, dry skin over any area where the respirator is likely to cause friction and/or where moisture may collect, e.g. the bridge of the nose, cheeks, tops of ears, or forehead
    • It can be used on the face, but should not be used in the eye, or on the eyelid
    • The product should be allowed to dry completely (at least 90 seconds) before the respirator is donned (put on). This allows fluid to dry on the skin and vapours to dissipate
    • Upon application, an odour may be noted as the solvent ingredient evaporates. The odour will disappear as the product dries
    • Always read and follow all respirator user instructions, including conducting a use seal check every time the respirator is donned (put on)
    • We recommend starting with a once daily application. If the user experiences buildup of the product, decrease the frequency of application, e.g. 3 times/week
    • Cavilon No Sting Barrier Film does not require removal but can be removed with a medical grade adhesive remover
    • Every time a respirator is donned, the wearer must conduct a user seal check. If a successful user seal check cannot be conducted, the wearer should not use the product with the respirator
  • 3M™ Cavilon™ Advanced Skin Protectant* can be used to help protect damaged skin, e.g. abrasions from friction or other superficial skin damage


    • The 0.7ml applicator is recommended
    • It can be used on the face, but should not be applied in or near the eye
    • The product should be applied in a thin layer
    • The product should be allowed to dry completely (at least 90 seconds) before the respirator is donned (put on). This allows fluid to dry on the skin and vapours to dissipate.
    • Upon application, an odour may be noted as the solvent ingredient evaporates. The odour will disappear as the product dries.
    • Always read and follow all respirator user instructions, including conducting a use seal check every time the respirator is donned (put on)
    • We recommend starting with a 2–3 times per week application. If the user notes buildup of the product, decrease the frequency of application, e.g. 1–2 times/week
    • Cavilon Advanced Skin Protectant does not require removal but can be removed with a medical adhesive remover containing hexamethyldisiloxane or a silicone
    • Every time a respirator is donned, the wearer must conduct a user seal check. If a successful user seal check cannot be conducted, the wearer should not use the product with the respirator.
  • The 0.7 ml** is preferred. If the 2.7 ml** applicator is used, the following steps are recommended to minimise fluid dripping or pooling during application:


    • Open and retain package nearby.
    • Activate the applicator and allow the foam to fill.
    • Press the foam applicator against the white package flap to express excess fluid.
    • Then, apply as indicated.
    **Single use only.
  • Once completely dry on the skin, Cavilon No Sting Barrier Film or Cavilon Advanced Skin Protectant is not expected to transfer off the skin onto respirators. However, 3M has not tested respirators for the presence of residual barrier film or skin protectant, or the impact that this material could have on decontamination processes.

  • 3M does not recommend use of dressings such as polyurethane foams and hydrocolloids. These types of dressings can raise the respirator off the cheeks and nose and may interfere with the intended seal and exposure reduction associated with the respirator.


    • If use of a dressing or bandage is desired, select the thinnest dressing available (e.g. 3M™ Tegaderm™ Transparent Film Dressing) and perform fit testing, as well as a user seal check every time the respirator is donned (put on)
    • Fit testing should be conducted following local regulatory requirements or recognised fit test protocol where fit testing is not required by local regulation
    • For those respirators with adjustable headbands, it is important to not over-tighten 3M respirators as this can interfere with the seal against the skin and increase the risk of pressure-related skin damage

    Note: Dressings or film barriers can be used to help prevent or cover areas of skin damage under equipment, such as face shields, where fit and seal is not critical to the function of the protective equipment.

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