With the number of COVID-19 cases on the rise, health agencies have strengthened their messaging around the importance of wearing a mask, but the number of available face-covering options can be daunting.
The most common type of mask worn by the general public is the standard cloth face covering. These masks serve to prevent the wearer from spreading respiratory particles that could contain the virus that causes COVID-19. However, these masks do very little to protect the wearer from contracting the virus.
Similar to the cloth face mask, 2-ply or 3-ply surgical masks provide a slightly higher level of protection from COVID-19. These masks prevent spread, and they protect the wearer from large respiratory particles that could contain the virus. These masks do not protect against small particles that could linger in the air.
The options that provide the most protection are the NIOSH-approved N95 mask and the Chinese equivalent, the KN95 mask. Both of these masks prevent the spread of the coronavirus, as well as protect the wearer from large and small particles that could contain the virus. But due to the high demand at the beginning of the pandemic, N95 masks are in very low supply while KN95 masks are readily available.
What if your facility or employees are exposed to COVID-19?
Having a plan in the event of COVID contamination is one of the biggest concerns for employers as they re-open. Here are five tips for establishing protocols if an employee or facility is exposed to the virus:
- Send home any individuals testing positive for COVID-19 immediately.
- Assign any potentially infectious individuals to isolation, where symptoms can be monitored for 14 days.
- Contact your local healthcare provider if symptoms develop further.
- For essential businesses that are unable to send all employees home, isolate any contaminated area using standard industry procedures, including workspaces of the affected person(s). This recommendation applies to first responders, medical clinics, grocery stores, financial institutions, and other essential service providers.
- Have the facility cleaned and disinfected in confirmed or possible exposure areas by a certified company.
Ready to learn more from the health and safety experts?
Hazmasters and Conney Safety, subsidiaries of WESCO Distribution, have been creating safer work environments for more than 100 years combined. They provide holistic safety solutions, from safety training, consulting, services to products, equipment, and more. When you need solutions to ensure the safety and health of your employees, choose the workplace safety experts at Conney Safety and Hazmasters.
Now more than ever, experience matters. In our Expert Webinar Series Segment entitled “Respiratory Protection Unmasked: A Guide to COVID-19 Respiratory Protection Strategies,” Certified Safety Professional Kady Olson breaks down current guidance and recommendations and helps you navigate the sea of respiratory protection options currently in the market.