Wearing a face mask is a new experience for many of us. We’ve had to learn how to properly wear one for the first time in our lives, but now after mastering wearing one, the question is – how do I care for my face mask now? Here are some tips!
When you are finished wearing your face mask, the Mayo Clinic recommends that you first fold the mask so that the outside of the mask is folded inward and against itself, then place in a clean paper bag. We’ve all seen the masks hanging from rear view mirrors in cars recently (a replacement to the fuzzy dice from back in the day) but this is actually not encouraged as a used masked could be spreading contaminates into the air of the car. In fact, it’s actually illegal to hang your mask from your rear view mirror in many states in the United States.
The disposable, surgical-type masks that are often blue in colour are just that, disposable. They are not reusable and therefore should not be washed, but rather thrown in the garbage after each use.
For reusable masks, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) indicates masks should be washed after every use. You can wash these in your regular laundry using hot water, and then drying them on high heat in your dryer. You can also hand wash your masks, using hot, soapy water and scrubbing for at least 20 seconds. To dry your masks you can put them on high heat in the dryer or you could air dry with laying out in direct sunlight being optimal.
And of course, before and after handling your mask you should always clean your hands by washing with soap for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer.
One study found that coworkers spread viruses to 50% of workplace surfaces within 4 hours of arriving at work due to shared contact with those surfaces. Help reduce the risk of illness by being aware of the more common surfaces in the workplace where germs are spread:
Desk. This is one of the least hygienic areas in the workplace. The average desk has 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat!
Hands. It is common courtesy when in a business environment to greet or say good-bye to someone with a handshake. During peak virus seasons, it is becoming perfectly acceptable to decline a handshake with an explanation that you’re concerned about spreading germs. In fact, many will admire you for your thoughtfulness! A wave and a nice smile can be just as welcoming.
Door Handles. This one is an obvious one, but did you also know that 1 in 4 office workers don’t wash their hands after using the washroom! Yikes! Use your elbow to open doors, or paper towel when leaving a washroom.
Keyboards & Mice. Sharing desk equipment greatly increases the spread of germs. Reduce the risk by ensuring each person has their own set of regularly used, high-touch desk equipment.
Phones. These are the most contaminated surfaces in the workplace. Ensure these are cleaned on a regularly basis to help reduce the risk of picking up any harmful germs.
Vending Machines. You could be grabbing a whole lot more with that 3 o’clock snack craving from the vending machine! And it’s not just the buttons you need to be concerned with, the door where you reach in to grab your goodies is also a major culprit.
Drinking Fountains. Sure, we’ve been taught since we were children to not put our mouths on the drinking fountain, but even without making any contact you could be ingesting more than just water in your drinking glass.
Printers and Fax Machines. With the average photocopier being touched up to 300 times each day, you’ll want to ensure these machines are being disinfected daily, or even better, keep a bottle of disinfecting wipes nearby the machines so people can clean after each use.
Elevator Buttons. Hopefully you get lucky and jump on an elevator with someone already going to your same floor. Otherwise, there’s not much you can do to avoid having to touch the buttons. You could attempt to use your elbow, or better yet, take the stairs for an overall more healthy solution.
Railings. Railings are in place to help keep people safe, but often the thought of grabbing on to one can seem scary! Sometimes you just can’t avoid having to hold the railing, so just be sure to wash your hands as soon as you can after.
Refrigerator. It’s not just the refrigerator handle you need to ensure is cleaned regularly. Keep an eye as to what’s inside the refrigerator for any built-up bacteria or mould that could cross-contaminate and cause illness.
We can all do our part to ensuring our workplaces stay safe and healthy. Knowing what areas to be mindful of is the first step to reducing the spread of germs to others. Have a look around your office and see if you can identify any other areas that could be potential areas for concern!
Some of us may be re-entering the workplace after several weeks, if not months, of self-isolation at home. Naturally, both employers and staff are concerned that their work environments are adequately set up to help people to stay safe, while still remaining productive and comfortable at work.
We wanted to help! So, we’ve compiled this list from the various health authorities of tips for helping to physically distance in the workplace.
Have sanitizing and PPE supplies (ie. masks) readily available to each employee and in high-touch areas such as by the photocopier and breakroom.
Post arrows to direct traffic in the office one-way only to avoid unnecessary contact. For example, always have people walk clockwise.
If in a cubical workspace, have every other person in a workstation to keep physically distant.
Avoid shaking hands with others, and if you feel contact is absolutely necessary, try an elbow bump in lieu of a handshake.
Stay home if you are feeling unwell and avoid contact with people who are sick.
Discourage the sharing of telephones, keyboards, desks and workstations, and if this can’t be avoided sanitize between users.
Conduct virtual meetings as an alternative to a face-to-face meeting.
Have only a half capacity of employees be in the office at a time (working on a rotating schedule A/B rotation).
Stagger start times, breaks and lunches to limit any unnecessary contact.
Suspend all group activities and gatherings for the time being.
Consider bringing back employees as gradual as possible, to limit both the employer and staff from being too overwhelmed with the change in procedures.
Posting positive notes or motivational messages around the office to show you care about staff’s mental health during this time is also very important. This can help to reduce any increase in anxiety and stress due to the new environment.
Where you can’t follow physical distancing, install barriers such as Plexiglas to separate people.
Restrict visitors and limit workplace entry to only essential personnel.
Consider re-arranging the office layout by moving furniture or using visual cues such as tape on the floor to enhance physical distancing.
Have tissues or paper towels conveniently located to be used to turn off light switches, open doors, push buttons, etc.
In the washrooms, mark off any sinks and urinals that are not at least 6-ft away from one another to ensure sufficient physical distancing.
We hope this was helpful and you find comfort in knowing that we are all in this together as we learn how to navigate these challenging times!