Personal protection equipment – masks and similar

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Contraindication to wearing a mask can only be proved with a medical certificate.

The certificate issued by a doctor must contain the name and personal identification number of the patient. It must also legibly state the period of validity of the certificate, the name of the issuing doctor, the institution, the doctor's code, the date and signature.

These kinds of certificates are not issued by family doctors but they can issue a referral to a consultation with a specialist. At the same time, the family doctor retains the right to assess whether the problem described by the patient is sufficient to ask for an evaluation of a specialist. A person's own opinion is not enough on its own.

Certificates sold on internet portals, advertised as documents that release from the obligation to wear a mask, do not have any legal power.

Last updated: 04.11.2021 22:57

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If you make a mask at home, this mask is not a substitute for a medical-grade mask nor would it prevent transmission like a medical-grade mask. Wearing such a mask and using other preventative measures may reduce the risk of transmission through inhalation and it will reduce the risk of infecting other people.

Instructions on how to make a home-made mask have been published by the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority:

  • A mask must be made of a multiple-layer fabric, which can be washed at 60 degrees Celsius, and can be heat-treated.
  • Materials used in cleaning cloths and microfiber towels, a thicker dishwasher fabric, antimicrobial pillowcase are suitable for making home-made masks.
  • The material should have good breathability.
  • The mask material should not be too stiff but comfortable against the skin. It should be taken into account that constant adjusting of the mask reduces its effectiveness substantially.
  • The mask must be fixed behind the ears; a rubber band could be used. Instead of a rubber band, a ribbon can be attached to each corner of the mask, but this mask would be more difficult to affix.

Last updated: 13.05.2021 09:14

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A protective mask is obligatory in public indoor spaces (including rooms where COVID certificate is checked, e.g. cinema, theatre, events, trainings etc). Wearing a mask is not obligatory in activities where it is not possible, for instance, in direct sports and when coming in contact with water, as well as when eating on the premises of restaurants.

A scarf, a tube scarf, a collar, a visor or any other object that has clearly not been meant to be used as a protective mask do not count as a mask. A preference is given to a medical mask or a mask considered equal to that (e.g. a FFP1-3 mask or a N95 respirator), which effectively stops the coronavirus from spreading.

  • A mask is not obligatory for children under the age of 12.
  • People for whom wearing a mask is contraindicated for medical reasons must present a certificate attesting to that fact, issued by a health care service provider, along with an identification document.
  • In employment relationships the basis for going to work and the requirements to use personal protective equipment (including wearing a mask) is a working environment risk analysis. Employees are released from an obligation to wear a mask if the employer has foreseen stopping the spread of the coronavirus in some other way in the working environment risk analysis.
  • Wearing a mask is generally the responsibility of each individual themselves, but in public indoor spaces the persons responsible for the activity, service providers and traders have to also monitor that the obligation to wear a mask is adhered to. This means that they are not allowed to let people who are not wearing a mask to their sales and service areas.

It is important to keep the following in mind:

  • The mask should sit on the face properly, so that the mouth and the nose are covered. If the mask has a wire to keep it in place, then the wire should sit tight around the nose, the bottom of the mask should fit under the chin.

  • If the mask has been pulled off the face, or it has been repeatedly adjusted or touched, then the mask must be changed.

  • The maximum time period for the use of a mask bought at the pharmacy is three hours. After that it is recommended to change the mask because the top layer of the mask might have become contaminated with the virus.

  • The mask cannot be damp. A damp mask must be changed out.

  • A used mask needs to be disposed to a bin with a lid or placed in a plastic bag which can be sealed. It is absolutely forbidden to leave a used mask lying around somewhere.

You can find more instructions and information about protective masks from the web page of the Health Board.

Last updated: 20.12.2021 16:20

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Yes, but the cloth masks have to be made from multilayered cloth and they must be washable at high temperatures. The mask has to be washed at 60 degrees, at the lowest. NB! Used masks must be gathered into a closed plastic bag or box. Used masks should certainly not be left lying around.

Last updated: 13.05.2021 09:14

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Masks can be sold everywhere -- pharmacies, construction stores, health stores, grocery stores, online stores. The important thing is that people get the correct information -- a person must know what it is she is buying, what it protects her from and how the masks should be used.

That is why the product must be accompanied by product information (name, the standanrd it meets and information on its protective properties), an instruction manual in Estonian and information on the importer.

If there is no information on protective properties of the product, it can only be advertised as a face mask.

Last updated: 25.05.2020 10:03

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If you are wearing a mask for a longer period of time made out of an unsuitable material and it covers your nose and mouth, then microfibres, dust or other particles may enter the airways and damage them.

According to the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority the unsuitable materials are:

  • Material that is not breathable – for example, denim, leather, plastic film-like material, etc.
  • Material that is too porous, so that you can see gaps when you look through the material against the light, such material does not filter the air we inhale and exhale.
  • Impregnated material or coloured with chemical agents unsuitable for the skin.

Mask is an additional measure for preventing the spread of the virus, but it does not replace other important methods for avoiding infection such as washing hands, cleaning surfaces, and also keeping distance from other people.

Last updated: 24.11.2020 11:26

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The employer carries out a risk analysis which will show what dangers there are in the work environment. This includes biological dangers, and among them is the possibility of infection with the coronavirus. After that, they can decide what measures should be taken to avoid or reduce related risks.

Personal protective equipment must be used if the risk analysis shows that the danger of infection cannot be avoided or reduced only by shared means of protection such as protective glass to stop the spread of the virus, or through organisational measures such as maintaining distance and making disinfectant available.

The employer has the obligation to inform their employees of any possible points of danger identified during the risk analysis such as the risk of infection in particular companies or during particular work tasks, and what measures are being taken.

The employer must explain why it is necessary to use personal protective equipment and to require its use. When this is explained to the employees it is important that they understand why this requirement has been introduced. If the reasons for the requirement are not explained to the employees, there may be more opposition to complying with it.

If the employee does not comply with the construction, the employer may issue a warning that they may be dismissed if they do not follow the rules. If the employee does not abide by the rules even after the warning, the employer has the right to terminate their employment.

Last updated: 04.05.2021 10:47

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Damp and wet masks do not protect us anymore as the virus particles stick to damp material very easily. But it is not necessary to wear a mask outdoors at all. Should it become necessary for carrying out a work task, for instance, the mask should be changed out more often or every time it starts to become damp or wet (the material the mask is made out of makes no difference).

Last updated: 29.12.2020 12:41

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According to TTJA the packaging of a reusable mask or an information sheet included with it must contain the following information:

  1. filtration efficiency and the size of particles that it has been tested with;
  2. reference to whether this is a reusable or a single use mask;
  3. in the case of a reusable mask, additional information that "the mask needs to be cleaned according to the manufacturer's instructions after every use" and instructions for cleaning/washing the product must be included. PS! The virus particles are destroyed by washing at 60 degrees or higher. For instance, if the instructions refer to washing at 40 degrees and there are no references to any other cleaning instructions that would ensure that the virus is destroyed, this kind of a product cannot be considered safe for the user for repeated use;
  4. using instructions (how the face cover/mask needs to be placed etc. -- this can be depicted with pictograms);
  5. the following information needs to also be included: "Always check that the face cover is correctly placed and covers your nose, mouth and jaw; a beard might reduce filtration efficiency." Additionally, the following information must be included: "Using a face cover does not replace other protective measures like regular hand washing, keeping a necessary distance etc.";
  6. a warning must be included: "Warning! This is not a medical mask or personal protective equipment. The face cover/mask limits the dispersal of droplets from the user's respiratory tract to the environment." (this warning must be easily noticeable);
  7. the name and contact information of the producer or the importer;
  8. the means of identifying the product (the model or batch number or similar).

The same kind of labelling must be included with the product description at an e-store.

TTJA recommends to rather refrain from buying a mask that has no information included at all or no corresponding description with the product at an e-store.

Last updated: 08.02.2021 11:12

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Yes, a cloth mask must be put straight into a washing machine, or a closed plastic bag or box immediately after use. The mask must be washed at a temperature of at least 60 degrees. Used masks should absolutely never be left lying around somewhere. A used mask that has been left on a shelf can disseminate the virus through airborne transmission and is thus dangerous to people in the same room.

Last updated: 08.02.2021 11:39

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The higher the mask's filtering capacity and the smaller the particles it can filter, the more effective the mask is. It is highly recommended to use medical masks or masks that have been equated to them (e.g. a FFP1-3 mask or a N95 respirator), as using them contains the spread of the coronavirus through air very effectively.

In close contacts with an infected person, a respirator mask that meets the requirements for personal protective equipment should be preferred.

Last updated: 20.12.2021 16:36

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New variants are significantly more contagious than the coronavirus variants that were spreading during the beginning of the pandemic and covering one's nose and mouth with anything other than a protective mask will not help to avoid infection.

A scarf, a tube scarf, a collar, a visor or any other object that is not clearly meant to be worn as a protective mask do not count as a mask. A preference is given to a medical mask or a mask equated to that (e.g. an FFP1-3 mask or a N95 respirator) which effectively stops the delta strain of the coronavirus from spreading.

Wearing a mask is obligatory to everyone 12 years old and older in public indoor spaces (e.g. cinemas, theatres, public transport, stores, shopping centres, different service locations and spaces). People who cannot wear a mask for health reasons must prove it with a corresponding decision of a doctor.

Wearing a mask is not obligatory in activities where it is not possible, for instance in direct sports and when coming on contact with water, as well as during eating on the premises of a restaurant.

NB! in employment relationships it is obligatory to behave in accordance with the risk analysis of the employer. This means that if the employer has, in its risk analysis, reached a conclusion that in the particular workplace the risks related to the spread of the virus have been sufficiently lowered with the use of other personal protective equipment like, for instance, a visor or a protective glass, the employee does not have to wear a protective mask. If the risk analysis has established that wearing a protective mask is necessary for safe performance of professional duties, the employee has an obligation to wear a mask.

Last updated: 20.12.2021 15:07

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More information about the coronavirus and restrictions related to it is available calling 1247 (from abroad +372 600 1247).