How employers can avoid a face mask shortage

Melissa Chungfat

There are many sites and stores for people to buy all kinds of face masks for themselves or their family. But it’s more complicated for employers in the US and Canada to secure enough quality masks for their staff during COVID-19.

Our founder Stephanie Sang has over 10 years of experience working in the manufacturing business. She explains why many organizations run into challenges when they’re trying to find quality custom masks that meet the recommended standards from health agencies or secure large volumes for their staff. 

We’ll go over why employers buying masks from us are assured that every mask is high-quality, lab-tested, and made by people who work in excellent conditions.

Barriers to export

Many people don’t know where to buy face masks so they will often go on Google to find a supplier or go on a purchasing site from Asia. One reason there can be a huge backlog of orders is because companies can’t export unless they have certified government stamps on the masks. So even though production isn’t a problem, some companies may not even be able to export it.

Masked For Work’s secure supply

Barriers to mask exports

Masked For Work’s Founder and CEO Stephanie has direct ownership in our award-winning manufacturing facility in Taiwan. We have all of the requirements to ship our products directly to customers and our facility is equipped to produce high volumes of reusable masks. 

Masks that aren’t up to standard 

Up until recent months there weren’t consistent mask standards among health organizations and they were still doing research about which materials are most effective in providing protection from coronavirus. After doing comprehensive studies, the World Health Organization released mask standards on June 5, 2020 including recommendations that mask should have:

  1. 3 layers
  2. A non-absorbent outer layer
  3. An absorbent inner layer
  4. Good breathability

Many suppliers were making masks with only one or two layers without adjusting their production to meet the World Health Organization standards. Even if the masks have a pocket to add a filter, many of the filters are not made in North America so then organizations will run into another supply barrier and higher prices. Having 4 or 5 layers in the mask with the filter can make it hard for someone to breathe comfortably. 

Masked For Work’s high standards

Face masks

We adapted our mask design to meet the World Health Organization’s standards and also created the mask with breathability in mind. Our masks are made with high-tech material that we develop ourselves. 

Employers who use our 3-layer masks for their staff know they are getting proper protection for their team and the masks are comfortable for all-day wear. There is also a pocket for people who want to add a filter.

Lack of quality control

Most people don’t know where masks come from, how they are made, or the conditions people work in to produce them. There is often little to no quality control in the production process so you don’t know if they will be effective. 

Because there is often no strict oversight in the production of masks, there could be problems with consistent quality with each batch of face masks. Many suppliers can’t access enough material in their production. 

For example, if you want a black mask, one batch of masks may be made with 50% cotton and 50% polyester while another batch will be 35% cotton and 65% polyester. This affects the comfort and level of protection you get from the masks. 

The US, Canada, and European countries have recalled and did not distribute millions of poor quality masks that came from China. As a result of face mask complaints coming from many countries, China seized over 89 million masks from mask suppliers after doing almost 16 million business inspections. 

Masked For Work’s consistent quality

Mask quality control

Our team oversees the entire production process from beginning to end from concept to delivery. The masks are designed in Canada and every mask is lab-tested for water resistance and breathability to ensure consistent quality. 

Taiwan is renowned for having high manufacturing standards and since coronavirus affected their population, they acted quickly to supply their citizens with masks along with other swift measures. The country, which has a population of 23.8 million people, has only had 7 deaths related to coronavirus to date. 

Limited supply of material 

Another challenge to finding enough mask supply in North America is there aren’t enough sewing, textile, and apparel companies in the continent to meet the mask volume demands. This is why organizations need to go to other countries to get what they need. 

Masked For Work’s secure supply

Because we develop our own high-tech fabrics that are built for breathability and comfort, we don’t have the problem of limited materials to produce thousands of masks every week. The outer layer of our masks is made with RecycleveTM, which is 100% certified recycled polyester. 

No water resistance on masks

The World Health Organization recommended the masks have a non-absorbent outer layer so that contaminants don’t stick on the mask. This also helps prevent the mask from getting moldy if it gets wet. 

It’s not typical for many masks to have water resistance on cotton or polyester because the science of making that layer and processing is complex. Any kind of layer and treatment added to masks also impacts the breathability. 

Our water-resistant masks

Rain

Our facility tests every mask for water resistance to ensure that contaminants don’t stick on it and that breathability isn’t impacted. We also implement processes to make sure that the custom logo on the masks doesn’t peel off as they get washed. The water resistance on our masks may be reduced after 20 to 30 washes, but the functionality isn’t eliminated. 

No antibacterial layer on masks

Many masks don’t have an absorbent antibacterial layer because it requires more steps in the production process and costs more to make. But having an absorbent inner layer is a requirement of the World Health Organization to provide added protection against contaminants. 

Masked For Work’s antibacterial layer

The inner layer of our masks is antibacterial and zinc oxide, which is known to destroy bacteria, is sewn in the material. Some mask companies dip the layer in antibacterial solution, but this can wear down over time. At Masked For Work, we buy the material at a higher price and because the zinc oxide is weaved into the layer, the antibacterial function will always be there even after long term use.

Conclusion

There are several reasons why organizations are having a hard time securing enough quality face masks for their staff. Many mask suppliers don’t meet the mask standards set by the World Health Organization, have limited access to enough materials to supply large volumes, and aren’t equipped to apply water resistance and antibacterial features on the masks. 

Our masks

Other masks

3 layers

1 or 2 layers

Meets World Health Organization’s standards

Don’t meet the mask standards of health agencies

Oversee the production process from beginning to end to ensure consistent quality

Little to no quality control

Made with lab-tested high-tech material

Made with cheap material

Designed for breathability and all-day wear

Not breathable

We develop our own materials and equipped to produce high volumes

Limited access to materials and can’t produce high volumes

Zinc oxide is sewn into our antibacterial 

No antibacterial layer or antibacterial feature wears down over time