Face masks: How to use them safely and what businesses can do to help
Facemasks are now a common sight in the UK and the rest of the world. Whether you like them or not, you are going to have to get used to them. With travel companies, as well as TfL, implementing hefty fines for people found travelling without them, the need for a mask has never been greater.
Unfortunately, as a non-mask wearing nation, it has become clear over the last few weeks that many of us are using our masks incorrectly and nullifying the virus-halting effects of the mask.
It is hugely important that, firstly, we learn how to use masks correctly to ensure we don’t exacerbate any potential second outbreak. Secondly, the businesses that are providing masks to their employers need to understand the limitations and proper usage of the masks.
How to use them
Using a facemask may seem pretty self-explanatory but there are a few things we are doing that are compromising the effects of the mask. Additionally, it is important to note that, whilst masks are good, they are not a guaranteed form of protection. If anything, they are only useful in preventing an infected person from spreading the disease and provide little protection to the uninfected.
When combined with regular washing of hands, use of gloves and safe distancing, the mask is a useful tool but on its own, it’s effects should not be exaggerated.
With that being said, there are a few things we need to stop doing to ensure the mask is not contributing to the spread. Touching the front of the mask, and the part that is in contact with nose and mouth, risks contaminating the mask. Then, when removed incorrectly and placed down in your own home, there is a risk that the virus can spread further.
The main issue is the way in which the mask is removed. People in the UK are generally unused to wearing masks which means we have a lot to learn. Removing the mask by the strings is an easy and hugely important technique we have to learn. Also, placing the mask in a plastic bag and washing it before it touches any other surface.
How can employers safely use branded facemasks?
Masks are going to be seen everywhere for the foreseeable future. People returning to work in offices will be required to wear one for considerable portions of the working day.
If companies are going to give masks away to employees, they should also be obliged to instruct those using them about how to use a mask safely and also the limits to the mask’s abilities. Masks will not protect someone from coronavirus, people still need to remain vigilant. Wash your hands regularly, practice social distancing and reduce contact with the outside world.
One initiative that businesses could adopt is the ‘Back to Work’ initiative. Employers provide their employees with extensive PPE kits complete with gloves, hand sanitiser, facemasks and anti-bacterial wipes. Initiatives like this help employees stay safe and introduce good working habits but, it should still be stressed that employees need to remain vigilant and aware of the risks.
Masks are a sensitive issue because lives are at stake. Our main priority when it comes to masks should be educating each other on how to use them and the limitations of the masks.