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How often should you change or clean your face mask?

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, face masks have become a common sight across the UK both indoors and outdoors. They come in a variety of colours, styles and designs as wearers look to personalise the item of clothing that has now become a part of our daily work look. As a result, many have stated wearing reusable face coverings as a more economical and environmentally-friendly alternative to disposable single-use face masks.

Although wearing reusable face masks have many benefits to them, with their increased use there are concerns that people might not be using them correctly. To be effective in minimising the risk of the Covid-19 virus, they must be worn correctly and all the advised face mask guidelines must be followed. This is especially important when social distancing in the workplace is not possible.

Unlike their single-use counterpart, cloth face masks need regular cleaning. This is because the pierce of fabric covers your nose and mouth every time you put it on, and if you don’t wash it after every use, you could be doing more harm than good.

A public survey carried out by YouGov in August 2020 showed that reusable masks were the most popular type of face covering; 69% said they used this type of mask. However, the research also showed that only 13% of wearers who use reusable face masks, are actually cleaning them correctly. 

So why is it so important to clean your mask, and what are some of the best ways to do it? We’ll clarify all below!

Why is washing my face mask so important?

The main reason for washing your face mask after every single use? Because the reusable mask itself can become contaminated with the virus. Of course face masks are designed to hinder the spread of the virus, but despite what you might think, they aren’t 100% effective. 

When we use masks, we always touch them with our hands to take them on and off. If you don’t properly clean and maintain it after use, it can serve as a vector for transmission itself. A used mask will touch your nose and mouth, allowing any existing viral particles on it to get into your respiratory system and infect you. 

But it’s not just yourself that you can endanger with an unwashed face mask. The environment around us is constantly contaminating our clothes with bacteria, viruses and fungi, and this can include Covid-19.  If you take off your used mask and leave it laying around your home, it can contaminate these surfaces too, putting everyone in your household at risk.

How often should we be cleaning our face masks?

Once you’ve understood the importance of cleaning your face mask, how many times should you actually be washing it? A good rule to follow is by cleaning your reusable face covering after every use. If you’ve used it all day in the office, then after work, take it home and wash it straight away. This way, your mask is clean and ready to use the next morning when you leave the house.

It’s also worth pointing out that if your mask is visibly wet, or you’ve coughed or sneezed into it, then you should probably change or wash it as soon as possible. If you work full-time or plan on being out of the house for a while, it’s working taking a spare mask or two, so you always have a clean on at hand.

What’s the correct way to look after a reusable face mask?

Need to know exactly how you can look after your face mask to ensure it remains effective? Take a look at these simple but effective steps below.

Wash after every wear

As mentioned above, washing your face covering after every use is the best way to protect yourself against stray viral particles that might have ended up on the mask’s fabric. Wet and soiled masks are less effective in minimising the spread too, as water and dirt restrict the airflow of the mask, affecting its ability to filter these particles. 

Machine wash or hand wash?

Most reusable fabric face masks can be either hand washed or thrown in with normal laundry on a machine wash. If you want to put your mask in the washing machine, you can simply use a normal regular detergent to clean it thoroughly on a 60 degrees wash.

However, if you don’t want to use your washing machine every day to clean your face mask, you can also clean it by hand. Using soap and hot water to lather your mask, make sure you scrub both sides of the cloth for at least twenty seconds before you rinse and ring out the water. 

Air out or tumble dry the mask

After washing your mask, you must make sure that it’s completely dry before reusing it. This is because wet or damp masks hinder its ability to work properly. To air dry the face covering, lay it flat on a clean surface or hang it by the straps in direct sunlight. Some reusable masks can also be tumble dried on a high heat setting, but double check the label first to see if it is suitable.

Store them away safely

Once you’re happy that your face mask is clean and dry, make sure you store it safely in a resealable bag if you’re not planning on using it straight away. This is so it won’t get recontaminated in the bottom of your bag or pocket.

When you’re ready to use it again, make sure your hands are clean and disinfected before you pick up your mask by the straps and attach it to your face. 

Is it not easier to buy disposable masks? 

It might seem more convenient to use disposable masks because you don’t have the hassle of washing them regularly. However, although it might seem easier to just wear a single-use mask and then throw it away after use, they’re not very cost effective. There are also all sorts of complications when it comes to the environmental impact of surgical masks. 

If you’re thinking of buying face masks for your office staff to use, here’s why you should opt for reusable ones, instead of single-use plastic masks. 

Cost

Disposable masks can only be worn once, so that means you’ll effectively only be buying your employees masks that just have a single use. In the long run, this isn’t very cost-effective for your business. On the other hand, investing in reusable fabric masks for your staff means that they can be washed and reused as many times as necessary. You only have the initial purchase to pay for. 

Impact on the environment

Conservationists have warned that the use of disposable plastic masks could spark a surge in ocean pollution. Many have already found the sea awash with disposable masks that are floating like jellyfish. 

But it’s not just the oceans that are threatened, plastic face masks can also end up in landfill sites, where they can take up to 450 years to decompose! You can minimise your company’s impact on the environment by providing your staff with reusable cloth face masks, rather than plastic ones.

Protect your employees with Mask4Life reusable face masks

You might be wondering how many face masks your staff will need? It completely depends on what your company does as a business, and whether your workplace is required by law to wear face coverings. If your workplace is classed as a public space, then the government states that it is mandatory that both staff and customers wear a face covering indoors. 

If your business is not required by law to enforce mask wearing, then you should check your Covid-19 risk assessment to see whether you want to enforce a rule in your workplace. Based on the outcome of this, you should always provide suitable face coverings for all your staff. 
Mask4Life has a variety of reusable face masks that offer suitable protection and meet the recommended mask guidelines. Find out how much you could save using our online calculator, by switching to our wholesale face masks, available to buy online today. We also provide masks with PVC windows for those that need visual communication to speak with others!

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How face masks affect our communications

Since the coronavirus outbreak started in March 2020, we’ve relied heavily on social distancing, regular sanitising and wearing face masks to stop the spread of the virus. Face masks are now mandatory in many public places, including restaurants, retail shops and other hospitality venues. Although face coverings are designed to protect, they are also having an effect on how we communicate.

Speaking to others through face coverings means that what you’re seeing and hearing isn’t in alignment, and in turn can make it difficult to follow the conversation that you usually would. Communication with a face mask is also hard for people with certain disabilities: for example, those who are hard of hearing and rely on facial expressions and lip reading. 

In this blog, we’ll look at how face masks impact communication, and ways to solve the problem whilst remaining safe and still adhering to social distancing guidelines.

How Face Masks Impact Communication

When wearing a face covering correctly, the material will fit over a person’s nose and mouth, to act as a barrier against the coronavirus. But, by doing this, it can sometimes make communication more difficult for people who suffer from hearing loss or speech impediments. Face masks make it harder to communicate as they can:

  • Muffle sound, making it harder to understand what someone is saying.
  • Take away a person’s ability to read lips and see facial expression, making it harder to understand what they’re hearing.
  • Make it difficult for people with communication problems, like aphasia or voice problems, to speak.
  • Be uncomfortable to wear for people with hearing aids or cochlear implants

But it’s not just people with hearing loss and those who rely on lip reading that can be affected. Communication with a face mask can also lead to what’s known as ‘the McGurk effect’ happening in everyday conversation. This is when someone perceives that someone’s lip movements don’t match up with what they’re actually saying.

When you wear a face mask, you’re relying on the pure sound of someone’s voice to communicate. However, because our brains are so used to seeing lip movements when someone speaks, when you wear a face covering, you might misinterpret what is being shared. Your brain might try to convince you that you’re hearing something that hasn’t been said.

How to enhance communication with face masks

Unfortunately, it seems that the coronavirus will be sticking around for a while, even with the vaccine rollout underway. As a result, masks, hand washing and other social distancing measures look set to become the new normal. So what are some of the ways in which we can improve communication with a face mask on? Here are a few methods you can try:

Be more expressive with your upper face

When communicating with face masks on, try being more expressive with your eyebrows, eyes, and upper cheeks during conversation. This can help to emphasise your point across more, and help to show emotions to those who rely on facial expressions for communications.

Talking slower and louder in quieter settings

It sounds obvious, but if you articulate your speech more and talk slightly louder, it can help to overcome the muffling sound that can occur from wearing a face covering.

Use a transparent face mask

There are different types of masks that can help people communicate more easily, whilst still offering the same level of protection against Covid-19. Cloth and surgical face masks on the other hand, can hinder their ability to understand and take part in meaningful conversations. For example, masks with clear panels have not only been designed to improve conversations in general, but they also support those who need visual communication to speak with others.

Rely on technology for interactions

People who are hard of hearing might prefer virtual meetings more beneficial than in-person ones. Video software platforms, such as Zoom, allow people with hearing loss to use a closed captioning option to automatically display the words being spoken on a screen. Zoom also lets whoever’s speaking to be isolated on the screen, which means in addition to the captions, people can read their lips as well.

Do you have hearing aids or implants? Try this!

If you struggle to wear a mask comfortably over your hearing aid or cochlear implant, try these methods:

  • Safely secure your hearing device with tape or another non-damaging material, like a cloth headband.
  • Use a button extender for the mask to attach it behind your head inside of looping it over your ears.
  • Choose a mask that has four string ties instead of ear loops.

Mask4Life face masks can help with communicating

At Mask4Life, we believe that it’s important to provide face masks for everyone, not just the well and able majority. We understand that the average face mask can have a big impact on communication, especially if you have staff that suffer from speech or hearing loss. 

That’s why, we offer a selection of reusable masks that support those who need visual communication to speak with others. The use of transparent masks helps individuals read lips and still have proper conversations. For example, our M4L Vision Face Mask has a clear PVC window fitted within the cloth, but it still maintains the same high level of protection as our other mask options.

Bulk buy our vision face masks to support your staff

If you’re interested in purchasing vision face masks to support your employees, then don’t hesitate to contact us.All of our face masks are double layered, reusable, and fully washable. Plus, there’s no extra cost of purchasing disposable masks and there’s a 100% reduction in waste. Not only does this save you money, but it also helps to stop single-use masks ending up in the ocean or landfill sites!

Find out how much you could save by switching to our vision face masks, using our online calculator. Have any questions? Why not call or get in touch today for a quotation!

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Do you have to wear face masks in the workplace in the UK?

Off to work? Don’t forget your face mask!

Both face coverings and hand sanitiser have joined the list of items that you now can’t leave the house without due to Covid-19. Face coverings have especially become a common sight in high streets and supermarkets over the past year, and they have well and truly cemented themselves into our daily routines. In September 2020 the government guidance on face coverings changed, and mandatory mask wearing was required by law in certain indoor environments; including UK workplaces. 

If you run a business or company, you might be wondering whether your employees have to wear face masks in the workplace. As lockdown restrictions ease, and staff members begin to return to work, the rules surrounding face masks can be very confusing. What do you need to know about enforcing face masks and the guidelines that come with them?

In the blog below, we’ll explain everything you need to know about keeping your office environment safe, as well as looking at whether office workers have to wear face masks or not. 

What is a face covering?

Most people have a good understanding of why they need to wear a face mask to stop the spread of Covid-19, but do we actually know what a good face covering is? 

On paper, it’s something which is used to safely cover both the nose and mouth. Face masks are mostly used to protect others from the virus, not the actual wearer. Because the wearer’s nose and mouth are covered, the main sources of transmission are cut off by the mask’s protective layers.

There are many different types of face masks available, so it can be difficult to know which one to pick. The government states that: 

‘cloth face coverings and disposable face coverings work best if they are made with multiple layers and form a good fit around the face.’ 

Other types, such as bandanas, scarves or religious garments are less effective if they don’t securely fit around your face.

If you’re required to hand out personal protective equipment to your staff, it’s work remembering that face coverings are not technically classed as PPE. This is because PPE is used in medical or industrial settings to protect workers from the virus with surgical masks or respirators.  

What are the rules on face coverings in the UK?

The rules on face masks have changed many times since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, and also differ depending where in the UK your office is based. The current rules contain both government guidance, as well as some legal requirements, and currently include the following:

  • Retail, supermarkets and shopping centres: Face masks are mandatory for both shoppers and employees in all parts of the UK.
  • Public transport: Face coverings are mandatory for travellers in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. However, transport workers are not required by law to wear masks whilst they’re working. But it’s recommended that they do in instances where social distancing is difficult to enforce.
  • Airplanes: In England, Scotland and Wales, face masks are mandatory for all passengers boarding the aircraft. In Northern Ireland, they are just recommended. Most cabin crew are also required to wear face coverings at work.
  • Indoor public spaces: Face coverings are mandatory for most indoor public settings across the UK. In England, Scotland and Wales, you’re required to wear a face mask in multiple different places, such as restaurants, cafes, museums, libraries and even takeaways. In Scotland and Wales, you’re also required to wear one in the gym. In Northern Ireland, the rules aren’t as strict, as you don’t have to wear a mask in a business that can maintain social distancing; such as a hairdressers or cinema.

Face masks in the workplace

As an employer, if you’re planning a safe return to the office there are many health and safety issues you need to consider. You have an existing legal obligation to provide a safe working environment, and in order to comply, you should follow all the coronavirus workplace settings guidance provided by the government.

Coronavirus is classed as a hazard in the workplace and should be managed in the same way as other workplace hazards. You need to carry out a Covid-19 risk assessment to identify all the control measures needed to manage that risk.

When to wear a face covering in the office

You should encourage social distancing, high standards of hand hygiene, increased surface cleaning and fixed teams as the best ways to manage Covid-19 in the workplace. Face masks are not necessarily required, but if you’re looking to keep your office environment safe, they should definitely be considered. If social distancing is hard to maintain, then it’s strongly advised that you provide face masks and/or PPE for your office workers.

If your staff work in retail, leisure or another hospitality setting, then they are required by law to wear a face mask. That includes not just shops, restaurants and bars, but also other customer-facing businesses like banks and estate agents

Are there any exemptions?

There are some people that are exempt from wearing a face mask in the workplace, including:

  1. People who suffer from a physical or mental illness, impairment or disability, who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering.
  1. People speaking to or assisting someone who relies on lip-reading or facial expressions to communicate.
  1. Where the putting on, wearing or removing of a face covering will cause a person severe distress.

The UK government states that no employee should be forced to obtain and provide a medical note as evidence for this exemption. As an employer, you must approach this based on trust and not force an exempt employee to wear a face covering.

Covering the cost of face masks and PPE

If you require your office staff to wear face masks at work, then you should provide them with these for free. It isn’t a legal requirement, but it is the best practice. If you’re looking for face masks and PPE for your employees, you need to make sure you find some that offer suitable protection and meet the recommended mask guidelines. 

At Mask4Life, we offer a wide range of standard and premium reusable face coverings for businesses. Our face masks are double layered and reusable, as well as being fully washable. There’s no extra cost of purchasing disposable masks and, as a result there’s a 100% reduction in waste. Not only does this save your business money, but it also helps to stop used masks ending up in the ocean or landfill sites!

Find out how much you could save by switching to our reusable face masks, using our online calculator. If you’re interested in purchasing face masks for your offices or workplace, get in touch today!

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Planning To Return To The Workplace After COVID-19

It’s safe to say that when you first started your job, figuring out ‘COVID secure’ protocols following a worldwide pandemic probably wasn’t on your radar. Yet, thanks to the events of last year or so here we are. After months of working from home, the mass vaccination program means it’s now time to consider how we return to work.

As a leading supplier of face masks and coronavirus rapid testing kits in the UK, we’ve put together the following advice on returning to the workplace after COVID-19 to guide you. 

 Coronavirus In The Workplace

Working from home came about due to the government deeming the workplace – where people generally work in close proximity to each other – a risk for spreading the virus. Naturally, getting ready to return to a workplace environment is a daunting prospect for everyone. That said, it’s something that is going to happen at some point which is why it’s vital to get prepared. 

It’s important to remember that coronavirus is spread by someone touching their eyes, nose or mouth with infected droplets. These droplets are spread when somebody who is infected with coronavirus coughs or sneezes. Therefore, as an employer, you need to reduce the risk of infection with every means you have available to you. 

The more effort you put into making your workplace COVID secure including closely monitoring any suspected cases, the least impact on your business it will have. 

 Government Workplace Guidance 

Working safely during coronavirus is a challenge that every business is facing at the moment. Safety is of course the number one priority, as is reassuring your employees that every measure has been taken to protect them. 

At the time of writing, here is some of the official government coronavirus guidance which all employers in the UK need to follow: 

Work From Home If You Can

Despite this being a guide about returning to work, if any of your employees are still able to work from home this is the current government advice. The main advantage of having fewer people in the workplace is that it reduces the risk of transmission. 

It may also be an idea to stagger the return of your employees. Doing so will help ensure social distancing, and it will allow you to individually explain all of the practical changes to employees. 

Carry Out A COVID Risk Assessment

Workplaces should work with trade unions and employees to establish what guidelines can be put in place to protect all those who use the building. 

For example, this could include introducing a one-way system on staircases. Or limiting the number of people who can be in the building at any one time. Open counters should also have acrylic sheeting installed to protect users on both sides. Every aspect of the building will need to be considered which is a very thorough operation to undertake. 

Employers have a responsibility to make the details of the report public, with the government stating this is a requirement for businesses with more than 50 employees. 

Social Distancing

Social distancing, in theory, should be easier to implement since it’s a requirement of the general public as well as in workplaces. Though, it can be difficult to judge just how far 2 meters away really is, especially in narrow corridors. 

There are steps you take to remind people of the 2-meter rule, including placing plenty of signs around your building. It’s also possible to invest in tech such as a social distancing device that will alert users if they are too close to others. 

In workplaces where social distancing cannot be maintained due to the nature of the job, employers need to take additional measures. This can include installing barriers, ensuring employees aren’t directly facing each other or creating workplace bubbles. 

Cleaning Procedures

Did you know that pre-COVID, dirty workplaces cost employers £1.56 billion a year due to the employee sickness such environments created? Therefore, keeping a clean workplace is for the benefit of the entire company. However, now COVID has been added into the mix, it couldn’t be more essential to make sure your premises aren’t a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses.

Workplaces should hire cleaning teams, and undertake deep cleaning including using approved COVID disinfectants regularly. In particular, cleaning needs to pay attention to high touchpoint areas including door handles, light switches, kettles, microwaves, taps, computer equipment etc. Where possible, remove touchpoints by installing sensor activated technology.

Also, make it clear to your employees that they too are responsible for helping to keep their workspaces clean. Providing antibacterial wipes on every desk will allow them to wipe down their desks, telephones, office machinery etc at regular intervals. In addition, place signage to remind staff of the 20 second hand washing rule within washrooms. 

 PPE For Office Workers 

Office environments pose various difficulties for employers who are looking to keep their workplaces COVID secure. As well as social distancing, adequate ventilation and diligent cleaning, PPE will add an additional layer of protection for workers.

PPE suitable for an office may include: 

  • Aprons
  • Antibacterial wipes
  • Disposable items
  • Eye shields
  • Face masks or full visors
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Signage

To ensure best practice, all PPE for staff must be correctly fitted taking into account any impairment the user may have. The PPE must also be located close to the point of use, ideally at your building’s entrance. A bin must also be provided specifically for the disposal of any PPE. 

Everything needs to be stored in a clean and dry area that is free from contamination, to be sure that no particles of coronavirus are found on the PPE. 

 Face Masks UK

Face masks and face coverings have been at the forefront of preventing the spread of coronavirus in the UK and globally. They will continue to be required when indoors and it’s advisable to wear them outdoors in crowded areas, or if the user has complex health needs. 

While adjusting to face masks in the workplace may take some getting used to, it is something that simply cannot be skipped. This also includes if your employees work in customer’s homes as well as the office. 

Face Mask Guidelines

  • Face masks should be worn correctly at all times making sure your mouth and nose are covered.
  • Check the fit of the face mask to ensure there are no gaps around the nose or mouth. Loose face masks can be made tighter by adding a loop to the band. Alternatively, you can purchase an adjustable face mask for your employees to cater for varying face shapes and sizes. 
  • Disposal face masks should be replaced every 4 hours. Reusable face masks should be washed daily. 
  • Always wash or sanitise your hands immediately after touching your face mask.
  • Never share your face mask with anyone else.
  • To protect the environment, always dispose of face masks in a closed bin to avoid them flying out into the open. 

Are Businesses Required To Provide Face Masks?

As we know, face masks must be worn inside buildings. The question is, who is responsible for providing them? 

The Health and Safety Executive has updated its COVID-19 guidance to state that workplaces within a healthcare setting must provide full PPE including face masks to their employees. In a non-clinical setting, this is not a formal requirement. 

However, what you also need to consider is maintaining consistency across the board. If staff wear their own masks, there is no guarantee of the quality or even how many times the same mask has been used before. Some may also forget to bring in their mask, which would put your business at risk of breaching COVID guidelines, in addition to potentially exposing others to the virus. 

The best way to remove such hassles from eating into what is also a disrupted work schedule is to provide face masks for all of your employees. This gives you complete control over the quality of the mask, and who is wearing one to begin with (bar those with special requirements).

For your convenience, our store allows you to buy face masks online. Our masks can be bought for a heavy discount versus buying them individually from the high street. Our disposable face masks can also be branded to match your business, which is especially ideal for customer facing workplaces. 

 COVID Rapid Testing

At the start of the pandemic, getting a coronavirus test either meant battling a dismal appointment system (that was giving people appointment slots 250 miles away!) or waiting 3 days for a postal testing kit to give you the results.

However, since September 2020, rapid coronavirus testing has helped millions stay informed about their symptoms, reducing employee absence as a result. 

Known as rapid antigen testing, it provides a coronavirus test result within just 15 minutes. The test is straightforward to not only take but understand, with a clear line indicating whether the test is positive or not.

The frequency of testing is depending on the business type, though in schools rapid testing is currently being carried out twice a week. Staff are required to report a negative test in order to return to work. 

Rapid antigen testing kits for coronavirus is also something we stock in our online store. Kits can be purchased in quantities of between 20 and 1,000, and are suited for a wide range of business and industry types. 

 What To Do If An Employee Tests Positive For Coronavirus

It can be extremely worrying for all involved if a member of staff receives a positive test result for coronavirus. As well as the person immediately having to self isolate, there are some other procedures you’ll need to follow to minimise the impact on others.

Firstly, start by informing all those who have come into contact with the affected person. You may wish to repeat any coronavirus testing and monitor them for symptoms. 

Also, make sure any areas the person may have been in are deep cleaned by a professional team. Such areas should be immediately zoned off until the cleaning teams deem the area has been thoroughly disinfected and ventilated. 

 Establish Clear Self Isolating Guidelines 

Another grey area is what self isolation involves, giving the ever changing guidelines. It’s important that all management and HR have clear communication so that your company response remains consistent. 

The NHS states the self isolation period is 10 days starting the day after your symptoms started. Though, if the person still has symptoms including a high temperature or a runny nose after the 10 days, then they must continue to isolate. 

With businesses already feeling the pressure with the economic uncertainty the pandemic has brought about, employees may feel reluctant to state they have any symptoms. That’s why it’s important to offer clear messaging and reassurance because ultimately self isolation is one of the best ways to control the spread of the virus within your workplace if somebody tests positive. 

 Talking To Staff About Workplace Changes

While the practical COVID secure procedures you need to put in place will take precedence, it’s good to remember the human element too. This involves having a regular and open discussion with your employees, some of whom may be very anxious to return to work. 

On a basic level, you want to make sure staff understand what’s needed of them. Remember, the majority of people have been working home, so suddenly coming back into the workplace may require a change in routine or behaviour to keep everyone safe. 

It’s also a good idea to appoint a trusted person within HR or management, so staff can talk to about any worries or concerns they may have. 

 Find Out More

There’s a lot to get your head around when it comes to planning to return to the workplace following the coronavirus pandemic. Although the world’s knowledge of the virus has improved, sadly the pandemic is very much still ongoing. That’s why digesting the above information and applying it to your workplace will ensure your business is doing its bit to protect its employees and the wider public. 

Are you looking to stock up on workplace supplies to ensure your business is COVID secure? 

Mask4Life sells a wide range of face masks, snoods and rapid testing kits to help keep your employees safe. 

Alternatively, if you have any questions about anything we’ve mentioned above, please contact us and we’ll be happy to help. 

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How to wear your face mask

A year on from when the coronavirus pandemic began, and we’re all pretty used now to washing our hands and wearing a face mask when we’re in public. Although lockdown restrictions in the UK are easing, many people will still be feeling a little nervous about the situation going forward. 

Just because lockdown is coming to an (albeit slow) end, it doesn’t mean that you and your staff should stop following social distancing guidelines and government advice, especially when it comes to face masks. The vaccine is helping to slow down the rate of infection, but the virus has not disappeared completely. As offices, shops, restaurants and gyms begin to reopen, we all need to remember that we still need to wear a face mask.

We’ve put together a handy guide below on how to wear your face mask properly, the guidelines surrounding face masks and why they’re so important to wear. 

Face mask guidelines in the UK

Let’s start by taking a look at the face mask guidelines. The UK government requires you by law to wear face coverings in some places, unless you are exempt or have a reasonable excuse. There are also a number of locations where face masks and PPE is encouraged. 

For example, in England you must wear a face covering in the following indoor settings:

  • Public transport, taxis and private hire vehicles
  • Shops and supermarkets
  • Hospitality locations, except when seated at a table to eat or drink 
  • Churches and places of worship
  • Theatres

There are many other places where face coverings are mandatory, the full list can be viewed on the UK government website, here.

But what about in work environments and offices? Do we need PPE for office workers?

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has provided detailed guidance for specific workplace settings. They state that the best way to stop the spread of the virus is through social distancing, high standards of hand hygiene, increased surface cleaning, and other measures such as using screens or barriers to separate people from each other. 

These measures remain the best ways of managing risk in the workplace, but wearing a face mask is a good precautionary measure to take to protect others around you. In some work environments, such as hospitals and care homes, it is vital that you have plenty of PPE for your staff.

How to wear a face mask

Unsure what the correct way to wear a face mask is? Putting on a mask should be a relatively straight forward process, but there’s a few things you need to make sure you do, such as:

  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser before you even pick up your mask.
  • Put the mask over your mouth and nose, and secure it under your chin.
  • Make sure your face covering fits snugly against the sides of your face.
  • Make sure you can breathe okay in the mask

If you have to constantly adjust your face covering when wearing it, then unfortunately, this type of mask doesn’t fit you properly. Instead, you’ll have to look for another mask type or brand. 

What to look out for when choosing your face mask

Take a look at our ‘do’s and don’ts’ of mask wearing, so you know exactly how to protect yourself and those around you.

Do

  • Wear your face covering over your nose and mouth.
  • Always wear a mask in public, especially when you’re around people who don’t live in your household.
  • Wear a mask made from a breathable fabric.
  • Wear a mask with multiple layers.
  • Try to wear a reusable mask – it saves you money and helps the environment!
  • Keep a spare mask in your bag – to replace the one you’ve been wearing over a long period of time.
  • Store used masks in a plastic bag or container until they can be washed.

Don’t

  • Put the mask around your neck or up on your forehead.
  • Wear a mask with thin fabric – these don’t offer enough protection!
  • Leave your nose out of your mask – it won’t stop you from breathing in/spreading the virus.
  • Touch your mask where possible -if you have to, wash your hands straight after, or use sanitiser.

How to take off masks safely

Most of us know how to put on a mask safely, but enough importance isn’t stressed about the best way to take it off once used! Your used mask could potentially have Covid-19 particles on it, so you need to make sure you take great care when taking it off your face.

Where possible, wait until you get home or have access to a bathroom/washroom, until you take your mask off. Either untie the strings behind your head or stretch the ear loops to pull it away from your face.

Remember to try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth when removing the face covering, and make sure you thoroughly wash your hands straight after.

 If your mask is reusable, place it in the washing machine as soon as possible and wash it depending on the type of fabric it’s made from. If you don’t have a reusable mask, it could be worth investing in one, as disposable masks can only be used once.

Why it’s important to wear your face mask

Covid-19 is an airborne virus that spreads between people through respiratory droplets. They travel into the air when someone coughs, sneezes, breathes or talks. These droplets can then land in other people’s mouths, noses or even their eyes.

Face masks are one of the best barriers of protection in preventing these respiratory droplets from reaching others. There have been numerous studies that have shown that face masks and other forms of PPE can reduce the spray of these droplets when worn over the nose and mouth.

Not only are you protecting yourself from catching Covid-19, you’re also helping to protect people around you and stop the spread of the virus around your community.

Mask4Life can provide PPE and face masks for your employees

If you’re looking for face masks and PPE for your employees, you need to make sure you find some that offer suitable protection and meet the recommended mask guidelines. At Mask4Life, we offer a wide range of standard and premium reusable face coverings for businesses.

All of our face masks are double layered, reusable, and fully washable. As they are fully washable, there’s no extra cost of purchasing disposable masks and, as a result there’s a 100% reduction in waste. Not only does this save your business money, but it also helps to stop used masks ending up in the ocean or landfill sites!

Find out how much you could save by switching to our wholesale face masks, using our online calculator. If you’re interested in purchasing PPE for your staff, get in touch today!

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What is the cost of disposable face masks to businesses?

Covid-19 has changed the way we all live our daily lives, including in the workplace. From social distancing measures, hand sanitising and working from home, there have been many measures implemented to try to stop the spread of the virus. One of these measures is encouraging people to wear a face covering, in particular, face masks.

In September 2020, the UK government introduced mandatory measures on mask-wearing in public spaces, such as shops, bars, restaurants and other indoor environments. These rules have not only prompted questions about businesses’ responsibilities when it comes to face coverings, but they’ve also had employers wondering how much these disposable masks will cost them when they return to the workplace. 

With lockdown rules relaxing, and with many businesses planning to return to the office over the next few months, you might be wondering as an employer if you need to provide your staff with face masks? Many questions are circulating regarding costs, the type of mask you should buy, and their benefits for each kind of mask.

That’s why we’ve put together the following guide on everything you need to know about face coverings in the office and the benefits and cost-effectiveness of each different type of mask. 

Do office workers need to wear masks?

With the government introducing mandatory mask-wearing in public indoor spaces, employees are unsure whether they’ll be required to wear a face mask on their return to the office. The current guidelines state that:

‘Face coverings must be worn by retail, leisure, and hospitality staff working in any indoor area that is open to the public and where they’re likely to come into contact with a member of the public.’

Indoor public areas include:

  • shops
  • supermarkets
  • bars
  • pubs
  • restaurants
  • cafes
  • banks
  • estate agents
  • post offices
  • public areas of hotels and hostels

For all other indoor settings, including offices, the government recommends that it’s down to the individual employer to assess whether they need to implement mandatory mask-wearing in their Covid-19 health and safety assessment. This will ultimately depend on the workplace environment and other Covid-19 safety measures that have already been put in place.

So in answer to the question, ‘do office workers need to wear masks?’ It depends. The decision ultimately comes down to whether you, as an employer, think the risks of spreading the disease are significant enough in your office space for employees to wear a face covering.

Benefits of providing face masks to staff

The most significant and most obvious benefit of providing face masks to your employees is the added protection they offer against coronavirus. The virus is passed from person to person via droplets from coughs, sneezes and talking. Scientific evidence suggests that face masks can reduce the spread of the virus by acting as a barrier.

If the majority of your staff decide to wear a mask in the office, especially in communal areas, straight away, you’re reducing the likelihood that the virus will pass between them. This will stop outbreaks from happening in your workplace, meaning that productivity will not be affected and absenteeism will remain low. 

Disposable vs reusable face masks

If you’ve decided to provide your staff with face masks, then great! While there are some benefits to disposable face masks, there are many advantages to bulk buying reusable face masks for your employees. 

Disposable face masks

When the pandemic first started, we suddenly all became familiar with the sight of the blue disposable surgical mask that is often used in medical settings. This type of face covering is usually made from plastic and can only be used the one time. 

Disposable face masks are great for use in medical and healthcare settings, such as hospitals. They are designed to stop the spread of germs and can be quickly replaced with a fresh, clean one after use. 

However, for use in offices and other workplaces, they are not very cost-effective or eco-friendly. If you bulk buy disposable masks for your staff, remember that each mask will only be able to be used once. Not only can this end up costing you a lot of money in the long run, but it also creates a lot of plastic waste. It’s estimated that around 60 tonnes of landfill will be filled with disposable masks in a week!

Reusable face coverings

Compared with single-use disposable masks, a reusable face covering has many advantages:

  1. Reusable face masks can be easily washed and then used again, just like the reusable shopping bags that you take to the supermarket in the battle against throw-away plastic. In the long run, this’ll save your business money by providing masks to your staff.
  1. They’re usually made of natural materials like cotton, making them much more comfortable to wear over long periods.
  1. Branded face masks are a thing! Reusable masks can be branded with your company logo, so your staff can represent your business, even when they’re on the go.
  1. Reusable face coverings are more sustainable and better for the environment. The clue is in the name; this type of mask can be reused and washed as part of your laundry.   

Are businesses required to provide face masks?

This is one of the burning questions that many employers have when it comes to returning to the office. All employers already have a legal obligation to provide a safe working environment for their workers. As we mentioned above, office-based businesses should carry out a Covid-19 risk assessment before returning to the office. They should also follow the government guidance in encouraging social distancing, hand hygiene, surface cleaning and fixed teams to manage the risk of the virus. This does not necessarily include the wearing of face masks in the office.

All employers should support workers wearing face masks if they choose to do so. You should also consider that the government encourages wearing face-covering in indoor places where social distancing is challenging to maintain. In these cases, it is considered best practice if you supply both your staff and visitors with face masks when needed. 

Cost-effective reusable face masks from Mask4Life

Looking to provide your employees with reusable face masks? Mask4Life’s face masks are double-layered, reusable, fully washable and offer a stylish and comfortable design. As they are fully washable, it reduces the cost of purchasing disposable masks, and there is a 100% reduction in waste! 

Find out now how much you could save by switching to M4L using our online calculator

We also provide masks with PVC windows for those that need visual communication to speak with others. From the choice of material to heat transfer, embroidery and woven labels, we can help you develop something unique – a mask that speaks the language of your brand. 

If this is something that you’re looking into as part of your return to work project, then get in touch, and a member of our team will be happy to help you with your enquiry.