Fake respirators circulate Australian markets

An example of a non-compliant respirator. Image: SafeWork NSW

SafeWork New South Wales has warned against the supply of fake masks amid a growing difficulty to obtain respiratory protective equipment (RPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This involves Chinese KN95 masks, which are considered equivalent to the Australian P2 disposable respirators used for protection against silica, asbestos and lead across industries.

SafeWork NSW stated that the masks were supplied with documentation from an unaccredited testing laboratory and without product markings.

It added that making false or misleading representations about goods carried a fine up to $10 million for a body corporate, and $500,000 for individuals.

Customers are entitled the right to ask for a replacement or refund for any masks that are unsafe or unfit for purpose.

SafeWork NSW recommended companies to make sure the RPE they purchased met the Australian Standard or the international equivalent.

“RPE that is compliant to AS/NZS 1716:2012 has the manufacturer’s name, trade name or mark on the mask or facepiece. The filters have the manufacturer’s name, trade name or mark, and the filter classification (P1 or P2),” the safety body stated.

“Many companies that manufacture RPE are certified by an independent body, such as SAI Global; and normally have their licence number marked on the packaging in which the RPE is supplied.”