As North America is either entering or well into the reopening of the economy, many companies are considering their reopening policies. While hand hygiene and social distancing are crucial, PPE (personal protective equipment) face masks are something your organization may be considering.
Here are the top 3 things to consider:
1 - Should I choose disposable or reusable masks?
Many companies default to ordering disposable masks for their employees. Although this may seem like the straightforward choice, consider the following:
Ease of use and compliance
Many employees complain about the uncomfortable ear loops or difficult breathability of disposable masks. The truth is if people do not like wearing something, they’re going to find ways not to.
If you want to maintain compliance and your employees’ safety, ensure the mask you choose is comfortable to wear and easy to put on and take off. Request samples to try out with your employees and get feedback before making a large purchase.
If your company has a sustainability policy in place, it is important to consider the environmental impact of disposable masks. Here is a great article on how disposable masks have a much higher environmental impact than reusable.
This is where you earn your bonus. Although disposable masks may seem cheaper upfront, if you consider the cost of having to throw them away once, if not several times a day, the costs add up. Consider a company with 100 employees, using one disposable mask per day. At an average cost of $0.50 per mask you will be spending $50 per day, and $1050 per month (21 working days).
With a reusable mask that lasts an average of 50 washes, at an average cost of $10-15 per mask you would spend $1000 - $1500 on something that would last your employees over 2 months. Thus, reusable masks are the clear choice for providing a comfortable, sustainable and cost effective option for masks.
2 - What should I be looking for in a reusable mask?
Health Canada and the CDC both recommend cloth facial coverings to be used by the general public when at work or in public spaces. Here is a list of recommendations from Health Canada on what to look for:
Some additional questions to consider when deciding on which mask is right for your company are:
How long will the employees be wearing the masks?
- Ear loops can become irritating if worn for long periods of time without a break. Masks with head ties may be a great alternative.
Does the mask need a filter?
- Some masks will have a pocket for an insertable filter. This provides an extra layer of protection and is not necessary but should be considered if your employees are working in very tight quarters.
How many masks does each employee need?
- With a potentially crowded workspace, employees will be wearing their masks all day and will likely need to wash them every night. Giving a minimum of two masks per employee allows them to always have a clean one on hand while the other is washing.
Do the masks need to be made with materials known for antiviral properties?
- Some mask producers knit with metallic yarns like copper, silver or zinc. There is evidence that these metals have antiviral and/or antibacterial properties that could help to add additional protection to the masks.
3 - How to create a positive experience for return to work?
How your company handles return to work will tell your employees a lot about how you value their safety and well-being. You should consider this as an opportunity to communicate to your employees that you care about them and that you want them to feel safe and comfortable in the workplace.
Providing masks is a great first step. You can expand on this by including a personalized message from the executive team, uniting the company and stressing the importance of employee safety. Including a bottle of sanitizer is another small but meaningful show of thoughtfulness.
Lastly, providing a mask that reflects your company’s brand helps to promote your company’s culture and provide a visible symbol of unity during these tough times. Think of your masks as a very visible extension of your company’s identity, similar to a uniform or dress code. Customizing your masks to include your corporate colors and even your logo allows your employees to feel like they are part of a larger whole. For client facing businesses this instantly associates your brand with providing a safe environment for customers and employees.
Myant has been a global leader in textile innovation for years. When the pandemic hit we were forced to pivot our strategy and quickly produced high quality PPE masks. With our manufacturing facility based in Toronto, Canada, we can guarantee your masks will be made of the highest quality materials with the care and attention of a local business.
We have a variety of masks to choose from depending on the needs of your company with the ability to integrate copper and silver yarns (known for antiviral and antibacterial properties, respectively) and pockets for filters for added protection.
Our extensive supply network means we can customize your masks to follow your brand colors and logos.
About the Author
Andre Pires is an experienced product manager working with both software and hardware products in the healthcare space. Recently he has taken on a line of reusable PPE products at Myant. Since then he has been working with many businesses to equip their staff with face masks for a safe return to work.