Minimise the spread of COVID-19; understanding the use of face coverings, facemasks and respirators.


Mass adoption of face coverings is an essential part of a control approach to minimise transmission of COVID-19. Mandatory use is now required in many situations. However where use is not mandated, merely recommended, there is partial compliance due partly to a limited understanding about the differences and functions of face coverings, facemasks and respirators.

The Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM), Society of Medicine (SOM), British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) and the Chartered Institute for Ergonomics & Human Factors (CIEHF) have developed a downloadable and printable guide for employers and the public to help identify and understand the use of face coverings, facemasks and disposable respirators. They are urging people to share and print this poster so people across the UK understand the differences between face coverings, facemasks and respirators.

IOM, SOM, BOHS and CIEHF are advocating for better awareness about the differences between the various types of masks, how they work, how effective they are and why they should be used. They state that without the education and awareness journey, the UK will struggle to realise the benefits that countries across Europe see following the implantation of mandatory policies for the widespread use of facemasks.

IOM supports the view that widespread adoption is essential to reduce transmission of infection in the community by minimising the spread of respiratory droplets and aerosols from infected individuals. They are urging people to familiarise themselves with the information in the hope that transmission rates can be better managed by people wearing face coverings. 

Understand the differences between face coverings, facemasks and respirators.
About the Author
Rob Aitken CEO

Rob has been at IOM for over 40 years and a member of the Board of Management since 2002 and assumed the role of CEO in November 2016. Rob was instrumental in establishing our successful Strategic Consulting division and in the set-up of our SAFENANO business in 2006. In 2012 Rob then relocated to Singapore to set-up our first overseas business as Managing Director of IOM Singapore before returning to the UK in late 2016 as CEO.