The wearing of face masks has been a big part of the country's environment since 2020 but how do people know if the masks they wear will protect them from Covid-19?
One Kiwi company, Tamaki Group (TGL) has been providing a variety of masks and PPE for government and businesses since before 2020 and is confident it is providing the right options that stand up to the Ministry of Health’s guidelines.
Charles Brothers, the director of medical applications for TGL, says, as with most businesses, the company wasn’t prepared when the pandemic began.
“It [the pandemic] was unprecedented. We saw that during 2020 when personal protection equipment items went through the roof, and you couldn’t get for love or money any masks.
“From our perspective, we dove into our markets and tried to draw as much product back into New Zealand, and started supplying the [health] ministry in mid-2020 with high volumes of face shields and face masks,
"I don’t believe anybody was really prepared. A lot of the large international corporates, 3M were also not prepared and we saw that when they took the products away from our markets and back into their home markets.”
Meeting the ISO standard
Brothers explained the process of how the company got the ‘tick of approval' to supply health equipment to Kiwis.
“New Zealand is an ISO or international standards organisation signatory. Based on that, we have a number of different standards that we have to comply with. There is an Australian New Zealand standard, so you will see it as ASNZ, and then you'll see the ISO standards.
“For instance, manufacturing of a medical device has to meet certain criteria for quality systems, and ISO 13 485 is for the manufacture of a medical device. If you do not have that. your factory cannot manufacture an ISO-accredited or approved medical device and that's whether it's a medical face mask or a respirator, surgical equipment, they have to comply.
“When we talk about the compliance for the New Zealand market, what we're doing is we're looking to see what certification each product gets regardless of whether it's for TGL or whether it's for three or more in other organisations. They must comply with certain criteria.”
Ask for everything
Brothers details what people and businesses should do when looking for masks and how they can get the most efficient ones.
“Ask. Ask for the compliance documentation. We all have it, all of our certificates are in place, and we’ll provide them to all of our customers whenever they ask for them. “Also, look, at what we call ‘instructions of use’,- that’s very important."
Brothers emphasised the proper use of PPE: “Having the right PPE is great, but if you don’t put it on right, don’t use it right, don’t take it off right, then it doesn’t matter.
“So when you’re breathing in and out, all of the filtration is happening so that, on the outside of the mask, is all the dirty air. So if you touch the outside [of the mask], put it down, touch your face, essentially you’re taking everything that you tried to stop coming into your system, onto your face. You’ve got to be very mindful of that.”