Type II Face Masks

When to specify a respirator or a mask, selecting the right Type II mask, plus guides and FAQs for end users

Download PDF - Last Updated 3rd April 2020

This information is part of our Face Coverings and Face Masks expert advice. More Related Expert Advice

Choosing the Right Mask for the Protection Required

This advice has been written to assist in the selection of face masks and respirators to ensure that the higher levels of protective equipment are issued only where necessary. This will avoid critical supplies being diverted and will enable them to be issued where they are most needed.

Choosing the right Type II Mask Issuing Type II Masks Donning and Doffing FAQ's

Choosing the right Type II Mask

  1. Determine the protection required

    If full respiratory protection is not required, and the objective is to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, the most appropriate product would be a face mask.

    A respirator would be a more suitable alternative where full respiratory protection is needed to protect a worker.

  2. Determine whether a Type II or Type IIR face mask is required

    Type II medical face masks are recommended as a means of source control, i.e. they decrease the transmission of a virus by preventing the spread of respiratory droplets produced by coughing or sneezing.

    Type IIR medical face masks are also splash resistant and are used in clinical settings to protect the wearer against splashes of blood or bodily fluids.

Learn more about the differences between face masks and respirators and where they should be used in our Expert Advice Sheet

Download Expert Advice

Issuing Type II Masks

To maintain or restart their activities companies are now specifying Type II masks, along with other protective measures, to protect their workers. Masks are being issued to workers who are dealing with the public, or in areas where social distancing is difficult.

Donning and Doffing Face Masks

If you are issuing face masks, you'll need to provide instructions on the correct way to put on, take off and dispose of a face mask. Our easy to follow step by step illustrations will help you.

Download Infographic


Is there a right way to put the mask on?

Follow the instructions for putting on and taking off a mask - these are often called donning and doffing protocols. These can be found here.

How do I know if I'm wearing the mask correctly?

If you are wearing a mask correctly, the white, smooth side will be next to your face and the blue colour facing out. The mask is the correct way up if the metal nose piece is at the top and the pleats fall downwards away from the nose.

How long can a mask be used for?

It depends on the individual use and environment, but masks are intended for single use - they should not be removed and then used more than once. Masks should be replaced once they become damp and must be replaced immediately in the following two instances

  1. When the mask is contaminated with pollutants, such as blood or body fluids.
  2. When the mask is damaged.

If you find it difficult to breathe or feel unwell whilst wear, leave the environment immediately and remove the mask.

Can the masks be used more than once?

The masks are single use and wearing them more than once is not recommended, the mask may become contaminated during use and should be disposed of after wear.

Is it okay to share my mask with others?

No, the masks are for single use and should be disposed of after wear.

When should I wear a face mask?

There are no guidelines in place for widespread use of face masks by members of the general public who are healthy. They may be a benefit to vulnerable people who are not able to self-isolate and need to leave the house. Masks are only one of the precautions that need to be taken. People should still follow social distancing and hand washing guidelines.

Do I still need to practise social distancing if I am wearing a face mask?

Yes, social distancing should still be practised where possible, along with other preventative measures such as frequent hand washing.

Are the facemasks suitable for children?

No, the masks are designed to provide protection in the workplace and are designed to fit adults. The sizes of the face masks may not fit the smaller faces of children. Therefore, they may not be as effective and provide the protection required.

What do I do with the mask once I have finished using it?

Do not touch the used mask, handle it by the straps. Put it in a plastic bag, tie the bag and put it into a lidded bin.

How should my masks be stored?

Keep masks in a clean container and in a clean storage area which is not humid, and does not have extremes of hot or cold temperatures.

Should I use a respirator - would that give me better protection?

A respirator does provide a higher grade of protection than medical masks, however there is a shortage of supply of respirators and these are prioritised for use for frontline responders treating patients with COVID-19. Also, to be effective it is necessary to have a respirator fit tested to an individual's face, otherwise they may not provide the protection required and may give a false sense of security.

View More


Sources & Useful References


Find us on:

Arco website help desk - Need help? email: web.help@arco.co.uk © Arco Limited, Registered in England, No 133804, PO Box 21 Waverley Street, Hull HU1 2SJ.
VAT No: 166911546