Updated: Feb 28
Are you planning to enhance the safety measures in your organization? Face coverings and masks come in different varieties to answer the needs of your workplace.
Find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about medical and non-medical face masks below. To select the best type for your organization, get free personal advice now.
How can employers make PPE work for workplace safety?
Providing personal protective equipment (PPE) will never be enough if it is not used properly. To ensure effective workplace safety and protection, employers should create a culture of compliance to the regulations on the national, regional, industry, and company levels.
Another essential step is to provide proper training and monitor the use of each type of PPE. Failing to do this will compromise all other efforts and the investment in PPE.
What type of masks should employers provide to workers?
Face masks with code FFP2 protect against solid particles, dust, and potentially harmful aerosols, while FFP3 masks also protect against toxic aerosols. This filtration mechanism makes them suitable for manufacturing and other facilities where employees are exposed to irritating or harmful substances.
It is usually not mandatory to provide non-medical face coverings in regular business environments and office settings. However, employers may offer workers this additional protective measure to improve their comfort at the workplace.
Wearing a face mask can limit the spread of the virus when combined with strict hygiene measures and social distancing.
Are social distancing measures in the workplace necessary if employees wear face masks?
Non-medical face coverings help contain the droplets produced when the wearer sneezes, coughs, or talks. However, fabric face masks do not have a tight seal around the nose and mouth which means that employees in close proximity could transmit viruses even when wearing a mask.
Recommended medical and non-medical face masks do not protect the eyes. The wearer could touch a contaminated surface and then touch their eyes even if they are wearing a face mask.
For maximum safety, employers should combine regular workplace disinfection, social distancing measures, and other options when possible.
Can wearing a face mask be harmful?
Claims that masks deprive the body of oxygen, cause carbon dioxide poisoning, or harm the immune system are false and misleading.
“The prolonged use of medical masks, when properly worn, does not cause CO2 [carbon dioxide] intoxication, nor oxygen deficiency,” says the World Health Organization (WHO).
The carbon dioxide goes through and round the mask when breathing. Even if some carbon dioxide builds up between the mask and the wearer’s face, it is unlikely to cause health issues.
However, face masks shouldn’t be used when exercising or in case of a respiratory condition making it difficult to breathe.
The World Health Organization highlights the facts behind some Covid-19 protection misconceptions.
How should wearers take care of reusable medical and non-medical face masks?
People should change or wash their face mask every day, medical experts recommend.
Surgical and FFP face masks cannot be washed but if they need to be reused, they should be stored in a clean plastic bag.
Read more: When and How to Use Medical Masks
Most non-medical fabric masks are washable and can be used many times with the proper hygiene. They should be washed by hand using regular soap and warm water, soaked in a bleach solution, or added to the regular laundry in the washing machine. To dry the mask, a high heat setting on the dryer works best. The mask can also air-dry in direct sunlight.