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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.

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Face Coverings in Education – What are the Rules?

The government realises the importance of returning to schools and colleges, both for the maintenance of academic progress and the wellbeing of students.

This is a big positive move towards normality, but will have to be approached in adherence to the guidelines set out.

We are assured that they will be amended going forward as soon as they feel it is safe to do so.

These temporary measures are due to be reviewed at Easter, which is less than three weeks away.

For now, all students over the age of twelve (year seven and above) will have to comply with the regulations (unless they have a medical reason that exempts them).

That means that face coverings must be worn at all times when it is not possible to ensure social distancing can operate. So in the classroom and around the corridors and communal areas, buses etc they will have to be worn, this includes adults and children.

Children in primary education do not have to wear face coverings, but the adults looking after them do.

This is intended to protect others, not the wearer, as the face and mouth are the main confirmed sources of transmission.

A face covering must safely cover the nose and mouth and fit securely around the side of the face.

Face visors and shields are not allowed as a substitute as they don’t prevent aerosol transmission.

It is important to have clean hands when putting on or removing your mask. Avoid touching the front of face coverings during use or when removing.

Make sure you carry at least one spare mask in a sealable plastic bag, so that you can replace carefully to a clean, dry mask if yours becomes damp.

Do not mix the clean ones with the used ones.

If you use disposable masks, these must be disposed of in the black bin waste and not the recycle bin. This means that you are not helping the environment by reducing landfill waste.

An eco-friendly option is to use reusable masks. These can be stored in a clean polybag and when they have been worn can be washed ready for further use at a future time. Available from Mask4Life – we have some great deals to offer.

Store used masks separately from clean masks, and avoid touching them. After changing your mask be sure to wash or sanitise your hands.

Whilst it won’t be easy to get used to wearing masks in school, it will be so good to see and interact with your peers, and catch up after these long months without socialising with them.

So if we endure the restrictions and do our bit, we can focus on the positive step this is towards getting back to the ‘new normal’ and enjoy seeing one another in person instead of over zoom!

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The Way Forward as Restrictions are Lifted.

Whilst we welcome returning  (albeit slowly) to the ‘new normal’ many people will be feeling a little nervous and uncertain of the unknown situation going forward.

The rolling out of the vaccination programme is a massive step but that in itself is as yet unproven as it is so new.

Long term, more strains may evolve to which the vaccine doesn’t respond so effectively, and new waves may spread that it is less effective in combatting.

We all dread another pandemic happening.

So what reasonable steps can we take to limit the risk of transmission?

Wearing a face covering will protect yourself and those around you from passing droplets between you.

Sometimes social distancing is difficult, or a crowd of people find themselves closer than they wished or intended. Make sure you carry a face mask with you at all times so you are prepared should this situation arise.

Face Coverings don’t take up much space, and Mask 4Life has a range of different materials and thicknesses to suit everyone.

Obviously, social distancing remains important and will continue to be practised wherever possible.

Washing hands, cleanliness and personal hygiene are also now at the front of our minds, and as they are good practise anyway will continue to happen.

If in doubt, either because you are worried that you may have symptoms, or have been close to others who may be carrying COVID19, having a few self-testing kits available is also very reassuring. Some workplaces have them readily available for you to use to minimise the risk of spreading it around at work.

4L Protection Ltd can supply these self-testing kits which are simple to use and prevent unknowingly spreading the disease.

Hopefully the above will ease the feeling of apprehension and also limit the risks of transmission, providing the confidence to participate in safe socialising as the restrictions are lifted.  

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Beating COVID 19 in the Current Environment.

In the situation in which we find ourselves we must do all we can to beat the COVID 19 virus!

The key things are:

  1. Protect yourself from others.
  2. Protect others from yourself.
  3. Good Hygiene.
  4. Wear a face covering.
  5. Let the fresh air in when indoors.
  6. Get tested if you have any symptoms.
  7. Self-isolate if you have any symptoms or live with someone who has tested positive.
  8. Get a vaccination when it becomes available for you.

So a lot of this is common sense.

For those going to work the risks are greater, as they will be mixing with those outside their household.

The importance of wearing a face covering is ever important, both for your own protection ,and of those around you.

However, it must be worn correctly to be beneficial – covering the nose and mouth to prevent droplets passing into the atmosphere. – https://mask4life.co.uk/faqs-help/

M4L have a range of reusable masks available, and these also protect the environment and reduce waste – https://mask4life.co.uk/product-category/face-masks/

Remember, this is not a replacement for social distancing and hand washing though. Hygiene and cleanliness are good habits to practise anyhow, but ever-important currently.

Also important, is to keep your masks clean and germ-free by washing regularly. Spare masks are essential in order to ensure that you always have a clean on to hand.

Symptoms are not always present when you have COVID19, and you can be infectious before you have any symptoms, so do your part and be vigilant.

The Antigen Rapid Covid Self-Testing Kits are now available from T4L that are simple to use and give you the reassurance that you are not unwittingly spreading the lurgy.

Of course, once you have the opportunity of having a vaccine that will offer you some protection, but as yet it is not known whether you can still pass on the virus to others even when vaccinated.

For now, we can all do our bit in the community or workplace to reduce the spread although there are so many unknown parameters in the uncertain and uncharted times we’re passing through.

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Things to Consider when choosing a Reusable Mask.

Girl wearing face mask in winter conditions

For your safety and that of those around you a mask is a necessity.

Have one with you wherever you go, in fact , a spare one is also a good idea , as changing masks when visiting different places prevents cross-contamination.

But which mask will work best for you?

The thickness and material of the mask is key.

A thin neck-gaiter is not offering you enough protection, whereas a thick fleece mask may do more harm than good.

The thickness and material of the mask are critical to its effectiveness.

A variety of fabrics have different spacing between the individual yarns. Those with smaller holes prevent virus-laden droplets or particles passing through, making them a better choice.

Having multiple layers of fabric also improves the effectiveness of filtering out unwanted particles, but you want to get the balance right so that breathing is not impeded in any way.

Two layers of fabric is usually a good option, but three layers gives the extra reassurance that some people are looking for.

Another important factor is the fit of the mask. It needs to be comfortable, but also fulfilling the function intended. It should fit over the nose and under the chin.

Remembering to regularly wash your masks will ensure that they are protecting you and not harbouring germs. They will need washing after every two or three uses.

When removing your mask use the loops or strings, do not touch the mask itself. Avoid touching your face and use a hand sanitizer to minimise contamination.

The outside layer of three-layered masks prevents water from adhering to the mask so droplets cannot penetrate. Regular fabrics cannot do this. The middle layer acts as a filter to capture dust, pollen and other allergens and prevent them getting through. The inner layer is 99.9% antibacterial and also soft to the face.

Being aware of what the end user is looking for has helped M4L provide you high quality face masks in many colours, sizes and fabrics.

Choose what works best for you without compromising on style or quality.

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Managing the risk of Covid-19 spreading in the workplace.

The current lockdown imposed on the 6th January means that as many people as possible are working from home significantly reducing the number of staff in a workplace.

But if you are one of those who still need to be at the workplace it is a worrying time.

It is of all importance to break any chain of transmittance of the virus before you walk through the door of your work.

Many companies are using the simple self- testing kits to ensuring those attending work premises are not unwittingly passing it on. You can carry the virus without having any symptoms, and you can be infectious before any symptoms appear, so however vigilant you are it may be too late.

A test will flag up a positive case, intercept and reduce further infections occurring. A negative result will give you and your work colleagues peace of mind.

The 4L Protection Rapid Antigen Covid Tests are highly sensitive and give you the result within 15 minutes.

It is also important to remember the social distancing rules. The more people spread out , the less chance of any risk.

The wearing of masks whilst working is an added protection to minimise the spread of droplets from person to person. The Mask4Life range has something for everyone, including the ever popular 3-ply Mesh & Toggles mask which provides even greater protection.

Regular hand washing or sanitizing is also extremely important in order to minimise cross-contamination. Touch points such as the photo copier and coffee machine also require regular sanitising.

Allowing regular bouts of fresh air into air conditioned offices helps to reduce any airborne particles that might be around. All in all, a good dose of common sense along with scrupulous cleanliness will assist in reducing the number of cases and in turn bring us back to normality as soon as possible.

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How can testing help your business?

With the current lockdown restrictions and the faster spreading of Corona virus we are all keen to protect our staff, and in turn our businesses.

We need to get one step ahead of the virus.

As one in three people have no symptoms, yet can pass on life-threatening symptoms unknowingly to others, we need to act quickly and beat the beast.

To prevent the spread of Corona virus in the workplace you can offer all staff a self-testing kit to use before coming in to work. These kits are simple to use and take only fifteen minutes to get a result.

The 4L Protection Antigen Rapid testing kit is becoming increasingly used worldwide and is proving of great benefit to businesses by giving their staff peace of mind that when they come into work they are not risking spreading the virus to their loved ones at home. It has a high specificity of 99% and the chance of a false positive result is negligible.

It also ensures that you will not have to close the business due to multiple cases evolving.

By testing all staff, regardless of whether they have symptoms, it will mean that if anyone has contracted the disease it will be highlighted before they come into work. The kit finds positive cases before they become overt.

Obviously as many as possible are currently working from home, but there are still a lot who are unable to for many reasons.

The kits are as easy to use as a pregnancy test, and if the test is positive a further test can be done by the NHS. This relieves them from doing so many tests, and in turn reduces the number of cases that have to be cared for. There are clear instructions supplied with the tests.

Why not show your staff that you care by providing the 4L self-testing kits and give them and their families the peace of mind that they are looking for in this pandemic.

This rapid testing will soon pay for itself by ensuring as many staff as possible are still able to come safely into work.

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Face Coverings in Winter

Girl wearing face mask in winter conditions

With the change of seasons fast approaching, and Covid cases on the increase in the UK, we thought it would be interesting to explore the options of face coverings.

So, lets start with the benefits. Wearing a face covering when out and about will keep your nose warm, at the same time as protecting you – and it’s not just Covid that face coverings will protect against, it will also slow the spread of coughs and colds too.

That’s great when you are outside, but what about when you enter a warm office? We will , no doubt, soon get into the way of taking our coats and masks off in the cloakroom and replacing the mask with a more indoor-friendly version.

An alternative to the mask in inclement weather, is the snood. This is a one or two ply type of scarf pulled over the head and worn around the neck. When you go in the cold, or need protecting, it is simply pulled up to cover the nose and mouth. It is ideal when walking to work, or walking the dog, and has the additional advantage over a mask of providing protection from the wind and warmth for the neck and ears. As fully washable and reusable, it is an eco-friendly option.

Another challenge faced in cold weather by those wearing glasses is the steaming up of the lenses. The warm air you exhale travels up your face covering and escapes behind your glasses and blurs your vision.

There are a few ways to make this more manageable. Try cleaning your lenses with soapy water and allowing them to air dry. This protects them with a film which may reduce or prevent them from steaming up.

A helpful tip is to put your specs on after your mask. This will reduce the escape of the air you breathe out escaping into your eyes. The fit of the mask over the bridge of the nose is strategic in preventing the air escaping upwards, so ensure it fits snugly. By twisting or tightening the loops over your ears, or attaching them to the arms of your glasses, this will restrict the airflow being released through the top of the mask.

And back to the indoor options (because we’ll actually be using them more).

With heated public transport, offices and homes, we need to provide as comfortable a solution as possible whilst offering maximum protection.

In addition to the vast range we have already introduced, we now have a lightweight comfort mask with a detachable washable lining and air vents. It fastens behind the head with Velcro.

Whilst this is intended for use whilst exercising etc, it is most definitely the most comfortable mask I have ever worn, and could be easily worn all day in the office, or while you’re out doing your Christmas Shopping.

Mask4Life have done the research and have a wide range of eco-friendly washable face coverings, which can be branded with your logo to act as a marketing tool to promote your brand if required.

Above all, it is important that whatever the weather, you safely cover your nose and mouth whilst moving amongst people, but there will be the bonus of a little extra warmth, and the added benefit of protection from other germs and viruses that are prevalent in winter as well as Coronavirus.

KEEP SAFE – KEEP WELL!

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Masks and Face Coverings – the way forward.

teacher and child wearing masks during lessons

This week we have seen many children and students returning to school after 6 months off. Understandably parents are worried about the risks this carries. Many parents that have remained at home to care for their children are now returning to work, anxious as to what the future holds, and whether the virus is going to spike as a result of this.

In the ‘new normal’ what should we be doing to protect ourselves and those we care for?

A face mask is a simple barrier that prevents respiratory droplets from passing into the atmosphere and spreading to others. Masks are mandatory on all forms of public transport. Children over the age of 11 are required to wear them. This alone will take a bit of getting used to. And when at school and moving around between lessons and at break times they will need to be worn. As far as prohibiting the spread of Covid19, the more they are worn, the better. It also makes people more aware of how infectious the disease is and reminds them to be vigilant in hand washing and keep social distancing wherever possible.

So, what can you do as a parent to make this easier and safer for your children?

It is recommended that you have a minimum of 3 masks for each person you are responsible for. This ensures that you have enough masks to have a clean one readily available for each family member. If masks are not washed frequently and kept clean and germ free they will not do their job.

Whilst at school, masks could be unwittingly mixed up, and your child might return home in someone else’s mask, so make sure that your child’s mask is distinguished in a way that they know it is theirs to avoid this. It could be a coloured piece of ribbon, a name label, or whatever you choose to mark it as belonging to them.

And, as a parent returning to work, the sphere of possible infection is widening dramatically. Due diligence is primarily your responsibility, for yourself and those that you are responsible for. If 80% of people wear masks, this can reduce the spread of Covid19 more than a strict lockdown.

So remember the 3 W’s for your household –

1. Wear your mask

2. Wash your hands frequently

3. Watch your distance

But the most important thing you can do to make it easier for those that you are responsible for is ensuring that there is always a clean, distinguishable mask with you and each of your family members wherever you are.

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Are face masks effective?

black-reusable-mask

A face mask is a simple barrier that prevents respiratory droplets from travelling into the air and passing on to someone else.

Although cloth masks are recommended, they must be frequently washed to ensure that they are doing their job. They can be easily purchased or made, and give that extra reassurance that you are doing your bit to reduce the spread of Covid19.

Along with this, please remember that frequent hand washing/sanitising and social distancing also play an important part. Masks help to reduce the risk rather than giving total protection, but anything we can do to minimise the spread is beneficial. Face coverings are expected to play a key role in the relaxing of lockdown measures over the next few months and will become a common sighting in the future, as people become more wary of the spread of disease.

Any mask that covers the nose and mouth will be of benefit but the comfort of your mask is paramount so that you continue to wear it consistently and keep sheltered and safe when out and about, particularly when you are in high-risk areas.

The more people that wear masks, the safer our environment is. It is easy to see the benefits of a face mask when people around you cough or sneeze, but droplets are transmitted also when we talk. A mask prevents larger droplets from evaporating into smaller droplets which are more easily airborne. We don’t know who is infected, but we can reduce the chances of becoming infected by wearing a mask, and encouraging those around us to as well. Remember not to touch your eyes, as the virus can be transmitted through membranes in your eyes…

Epidemiological data indicates that wearing masks has led to a slowdown in growth rate, and consequently lower death rates.

80% of people wearing masks could reduce Covid19 spread more than a strict lockdown.

Remember the 3W’s

  • Wear your mask.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • And watch your distance. 

The most important one is the mask, as human-to-human droplets spread the disease, and nobody knows who is going to be the next victim.