Recommendation about masks and COVID-19

Reference: WHO website

Masks can control transmission of virus and saved life. The use of masks alone is not sufficient for protection against COVID19. We should also maintain a minimum physical distance of at least 1 metre from others, frequently clean your hands and avoid touching your face and mask.

Type of masks

Medical masks (also known as surgical masks)

These are made from a minimum of three layers of synthetic nonwoven materials, and configured to have filtration layers sandwiched in the middle. These masks are available in different thicknesses, have various levels of fluid-resistance and two levels of filtration. These medical masks reduce the respiratory droplets from the wearer to others and to the environment. They also prevent transmission of the virus from others to the wearer.

Medical masks can protect people wearing the mask from getting infected, as well as can prevent those who have symptoms from spreading them. WHO recommends the following groups use medical masks.

  • Health workers
  • Anyone with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, including people with mild symptoms 
  • People caring for suspect or confirmed cases of COVID-19 outside of health facilities

Medical masks are also recommended for these at-risk people, when they are in areas of widespread transmission and they cannot guarantee a distance of at least 1 metre from others:

  • People aged 60 or over
  • People of any age with underlying health conditions

When and how to use the masks

Respirators (also known as filtering facepiece respirators – FFP) and available at different performance levels such as FFP2, FFP3, N95, N99): these are specifically designed for healthcare workers who provide care to COVID-19 patients in settings and areas where aerosol generating procedures are undertaken. Healthcare workers should be fit tested before using a respirator to ensure that they are wearing the correct size.

Non-medical masks (also known as fabric masks, home-made masks, DIY masks) can act as a barrier to prevent the spread of the virus from the wearer to others.

They can be purchased commercially or handmade, and are generally not standardized like medical masks. There are numerous types of fabric masks, they should cover the nose, mouth, and chin and be secured with elastic loops or ties, include multiple layers, be washable and reusable.

Remember, the use of a fabric mask alone is not sufficient to provide an adequate level of protection. Maintain a minimum physical distance of at least 1 metre from others, frequently clean your hands and continue to avoid touching your face and the mask.

WHO will be referring to non-medical masks as fabric masks.

Non-medical, fabric masks are being used by many people in public areas, but there has been limited evidence on their effectiveness and WHO does not recommend their widespread use among the public for control of COVID-19. However, for areas of widespread transmission, with limited capacity for implementing control measures and especially in settings where physical distancing of at least 1 metre is not possible – such as on public transport, in shops or in other confined or crowded environments – WHO advises governments to encourage the general public to use non-medical fabric masks.

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How to stay in compliance with QHSE regulations required by the KRG Ministry of Natural Resources

Why is QHSE Compliance Important?

QHSE regulations are applicable to all sectors and business sizes from a small general trading company to a multi-national construction company.

To be included on the Approved Vendor List:

If you are a business owner and you want to participate in the KRG’s oil and gas tenders, your business must register in the Ministry of Natural Resources’ (MNR) Approved Vendor List (AVL). One of the most important and most time-consuming requirements for the registration in the MNR AVL is to demonstrate having implemented an approved Quality, Health, Safety, and Environmental (QHSE) management system.

To earn the benefits and savings of compliance:

Compliance with an internationally recognized Quality, Health, Safety, and Environmental management system provides significant returns to companies including safer operations, lower accident rates, healthier employees, and more efficient operations. Investment in a properly implemented QHSE system yields substantial returns over the life of the company.

What is the Scope of QHSE Compliance?

Before being included on the MNR AVL, companies must provide internationally recognized certification of compliance with ISO 9001:2015, ISO 45001:2018 and ISO 14001:2015.

Companies must demonstrate operational capability and consistent compliance with policies, procedures, and recording system requirements according to international standards to independent auditors – who must be, according to ISO rules, completely independent of the company being audited and of any consultants advising the company on ISO compliance.

The companies must be able to demonstrate to the auditor’s satisfaction that their QHSE management system is fully implemented in their day to day operations.

The QHSE management system shall demonstrate the following requirements:

  • Document control system is implemented,
  • Emergency equipment and response procedures are working properly and updated,
  • Employees are trained and have awareness of the QHSE management system,
  • The company has an approved incidents management system and that incidents are being recorded,
  • The waste management procedure is in the place and implemented,
  • Hazards and risks are assessed as needed are properly controlled,
  • The company has a QHSE manual,
  • Top management is engaged with the QHSE management system,
  • An appropriate personal protective equipment policy is implemented,
  • Employee training records are current and updated,
  • A safety driving policy is communicated to employees and vehicles are regularly inspected,
  • The company has medical management policy,
  • Safety procedures and meeting are consistently followed,
  • The organization has drugs and alcohol policy and the policy is communicated to the employees.

How to Become Compliant and Earn Certification?

Step 1: Identify an experienced employee or a private consulting company who can prepare the policies and procedures according to company’s actual operations in compliance with international standards.

Step 2: Train staff on the policies and procedures and ensure they are working and are followed regularly.

Step 3: Engage a properly credentialed, internationally recognized auditor to certify ISO compliance with the relevant standards.

Step 4: Create an account on the MNR portal page and upload the required documentation and certificates.

If your company would benefit from registration on the MNR AVL or from the improved operational efficiency and reduced operating costs that accrue to companies by implementing globally accepted best practices, we can help your organization efficiently get through steps to certification and final approval from Ministry of Natural Resources.