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PPE guidance for staff

Using masks

Healthcare workers should wear masks to protect against respiratory infection.

Wearing a mask helps to reduce the risk of droplet transmission from you to others, and from others to you.

Wearing a mask is not a replacement for other measures to prevent spreading infection, for example, hand hygiene and maintaining distance.

You must put on your mask correctly. It should cover your nose and mouth and not be moved up and down.

Masks should be worn in all healthcare settings.

This includes:

  • primary care
  • secondary care
  • tertiary care
  • National Ambulance Service
  • vaccination centres

Mask use in different settings

Public health guidance on mask use applies in HSE buildings that are not within or adjacent to where clinical care is delivered.

Masks should be given to staff who wish to wear one in any workplace setting.

Surgical masks

Healthcare workers should wear surgical masks when interacting with other healthcare workers, and not delivering care to patients. Healthcare workers should wear respirator masks (FFP2) when delivering care to patients.

Surgical masks should be offered to patients and service users using healthcare services. Access to care must not be denied, if a person is not able to wear a mask.

Surgical masks should be given to those accompanying a patient, and they should be asked to wear it.

Hospital patients and residents in residential settings for older people should be encouraged to wear masks when outside their room or bed space. Surgical masks should be given to those who wish to wear them in their room or bed space.

This applies to all healthcare settings including:

  • primary care
  • secondary care
  • tertiary care
  • National Ambulance Service
  • vaccination centres

Respirator masks

Healthcare workers should wear respirator masks (FFP2) in settings where they are delivering clinical care.

Respirator masks will be given to patients in multi-bed or open areas, who wish to wear them in preference to surgical masks.

This applies to all healthcare settings including:

  • primary care
  • secondary care
  • tertiary care
  • National Ambulance Service
  • vaccination centres

Guidance on using PPE

Personal protective equipment is valuable as an additional protection for patients and staff. It should only be used where it is likely to be beneficial, as outlined in the HSE Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) guidance.

Related content

Face masks - when and how to wear one

Page last reviewed: 22/04/2020
Next review due: 22/04/2023