Selecting the Right Face Covering for Your Organization

Surgical mask
Face coverings are part of the overall strategy to reduce the spread of disease in this COVID-19 world. However, the decision to purchase face coverings for the workplace requires selecting the right mask based on the role and environment. In this first of a 3-part blog series, we will explain the purpose of face coverings and their role within the overall system to minimize occupational risks within your business.

Purpose of Face Masks

Like any respiratory infection, the novel coronavirus is spread via respiratory secretions by an infected person coughing, sneezing, and speaking. This is further complicated when an infected person may not even know that they are infected, because they have no symptoms, but are still shedding the virus. These infected droplets are then picked-up by other people touching a surface, or are inhaled by a healthy person. Face coverings are an important piece of safety equipment for the workplace, but not for the reason that some believe.

coronavirus transmission

How Face Masks Work

Face coverings are often misunderstood. Most face coverings are not designed to filter fine particles, like germs and dust, to protect the wearer. Instead, they serve as a physical barrier to block respiratory secretions when the wearer is speaking, singing, coughing, or sneezing. Thus face coverings are to protect those around us and not the wearer. An exception to this is the N95 respirators (sometimes referred to as a mask), that are designed to filter out fine particles. Even then, not all N95 masks are appropriate when the goal is to minimize the spread of airborne germs. We’ll explain more about this in part 2 of this series.

Prevention through Design

Face coverings are part of a layered system of controls (a concept known as Prevention through Design) to minimize occupational exposure. Face coverings are not meant to be the sole mechanism for protecting workers, visitors, and customers. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), like face coverings, are the last layer of defense and the least effective form of control. Deciding which face covering to use depends on occupational risk level of the person performing the task(s), and the workplace environment. Once these are defined, decision makers are better able to make an informed decision regarding the type(s) of face coverings necessary. Click here to learn more about Prevention through Design.

In part 2 of this blog series, we will review the features, advantages and disadvantages of each category of face coverings. The third post in the series will connect the pieces for the purpose of assisting readers to make an informed decision prior to your next purchase.

Until next time….

About SRI

Strategic Response Initiatives (SRI) is NY State Certified Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business that serves both public and private clients for a variety of mission-critical activities. SRI also is an e-procurement supplier to federal, state and local governments. Click here to learn more about SRI and to learn more about its procurement engine, G4Pro Marketplace, click here.