Wearing a Face Cover to Work: What Employees Should Know
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing cloth face covers for people in public areas with high traffic or where social distancing is too difficult to maintain. As more businesses across the country reopen their doors, employers are looking for solutions to keep their employees and clients protected. One of the solutions is for employees to wear a face cover – or face mask – to work.
[RELATED: Reopening Your Business After COVID-19]
Starting May 1, Louisiana employees that are in contact with the public at work are required to wear a face cover. Failure to do so could result with a misdemeanor charge with a $500 maximum fine and up to six months in jail.
If your employees are required or recommended to wear a face cover, be sure your workers are informed of the following:
Types of Face Covers to Wear to Work
The most effective cloth face masks should have multiple layers of fabric and completely covers your nose and mouth. Do not wear one that is damaged or has holes, unless it is the only face cover you have access to. The CDC has provided instructions for how you can make your own cloth face cover at home if you need one.
Additionally, unless you work directly in the healthcare industry, do not wear a medical-grade or surgical face masks. Due to the shortage of medical-grade face masks, it is important to reserve them only for healthcare workers.
Face Covers Must Be Properly Secured on Your Face
Face covers are only effective when they are put on and worn correctly. Read the directions for putting on and wearing your face mask (if provided).
When you are putting the face cover on, refrain touching any of the fabric to avoid possible contamination. Use the ear bands to put on and adjust the mask. Your face cover should also fit securely around your nose and mouth and allow you to breathe comfortably.
Keep Your Face Cover Clean
At the end of each workday, be sure to wash your face cover before wearing it again. No one else should wear your face mask besides you to avoid cross-contamination. Cloth face covers can be machine washed and dried, but as mentioned earlier, be sure to follow any instructions provided with your face cover.
The CDC has provided guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and products to help prevent the spread of the virus. This is essential for maintaining a healthy work environment. Be sure to clean any surface before and after laying your face cover on it.
If you are using disposable face masks, be sure they are not reused and are thrown away in appropriate trash receptacles.
Use Good Practices with Wearing Your Face Cover at Work
For most employees, wearing a face cover to work is a new experience that requires additional precautions. For example, be sure to keep your face mask away from machinery that it could get caught in.
Do not lay your face mask on any surface that may contaminate the face mask or contaminate the surface. If you need to take off your face mask, take it off from the back, not touching the fabric, and carefully store it away until you are able to wash it.
Be sure to always wash your hands with warm water and before and after removing your face mask. Follow the instructions stated above for putting on and removing your face cover as well.
If you do not have access to a sink and soap, then be sure to use hand sanitizer with 60 percent alcohol as an alternative. When washing your hands, do not forget to also wash your wrists, between your fingers, and under your fingernails.
Continue to Follow the Five Recommendations
Although face cloth covers do prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others, they are not a substitution for social distancing or the other CDC recommendations made for protecting you, your employees, and others from the coronavirus.
- Wash your hands regularly, including before and after removing your face mask
- Stay at least six feet apart from others
- Cough and/or sneeze into your elbow
- When you are not at work, practice social distancing
- Avoid touching your face when adjusting your face mask
Be Sure to Check for Any Updates from Your State Officials
As face-cover policies vary state by state and are frequently changing, it is important to stay up to date on the latest announcements from your local and state officials. Check your state and local news sources for the latest information.
Additionally, check the ESS blog often for any assistance with new workplace standards and policy updates during COVID-19.