At the time of this publication April 27, 2020, it is important to note that the public health authority is still urging the general public not to wear N95 or surgical masks in order to save them for health care workers. So, what is a business to do, especially when the CDC has recommended face masks be worn in public?
First start with a smart PPE plan. See our previous blog Managing PPE for more information.
Next, providing face masks for your employee population may be challenging due to supply and demand. Where do I start?
Decide if you plan to use disposable or re-usable cloth masks.
Try to procure PPE through vendors in which you have an established relationship.
Shop local. Many local manufacturers have started to produce PPE. Reach out to your Chamber of Commerce or other business groups for sourcing leads.
Business Strong Alliance has a distributor that may be helpful. Reach out to us and we will respond promptly. Complete the contact us section on the bottom of our landing page Business Strong Alliance.
Be wary of vendors who cannot adequately answer your questions.
Finally – educate your employees on how to make their own face covering. Wakehealth Study - Best Material for Homemade Masks and teach them to wear, launder, or dispose of correctly.
Best Types of Masks – most employers should follow their local government guidelines for the type of mask that is recommended for their industry. Some states may have a voluntary program while others may be required. As an example, the State of CT has required that all employers provide face masks, material for face coverings, or reimbursement costs to essential employees. This information can be found on the local government website as an example: State of CT Face Covering Workplace Guidance. Monitor your state’s websites for guidance as it may shift from voluntary to mandatory or mandatory to voluntary as things evolve.
Whether is it a voluntary or mandatory program we recommend that you also review OSHA’s guidance for using face masks in the workplace: OSHA Fact Sheet