NASP recently sent out a survey regarding COVID-19 and the use of face coverings in the workplace. The results were quite surprising. Out of nearly 300 responses in just 1 day, these are our findings:
When asked if safety professionals wear some sort of face-coverings while out in public, 88% of survey respondents stated that they either wear them all the time in public regardless of state/local requirements or wore them in public ONLY if it was required.
When asked if the employer requires employees to wear face masks for COVID-19 protection, nearly 18% stated that there are ZERO requirements for protection of any kind.
NASP then posed two additional questions, one of which was an open-ended response, asking what safety professionals thought the greatest concern with using non-respirators (like cloth face coverings) for protection against COVID-19. In the tallied response, nearly 35% of respondents believed that the limited protection the masks provided was their biggest concern, and an additional 30% were worried about the bacteria and other microorganism build-up from repeated use. We followed up this question with an open-ended response asking for additional concerns regarding the use of cloth coverings; the following paraphrased responses were some of the most common:
- Employees are not properly caring for, and cleaning their cloth masks
- Employees are not properly donning or doffing their masks or are wearing them improperly (example: wearing the mask so that it only covers the mouth and not the nose)
- The use of masks in high-heat situations was leading to increased heat injuries
- The effectiveness of cloth masks in stopping the spread of the virus
- Inconsistent guidance between Federal, state, and local agencies as well as WHO, CDC, and OSHA
- The ability to breathe in a mask and other medical concerns
It is also interesting to note that nearly 12% polled responded that they did not wear masks out in public as it infringed upon their personal freedom to choose. A couple of points on this response, the CDC recommends facial covers if social distancing cannot be maintained. Therefore, an argument could be made that if you managed to stay greater than six feet away from anyone else while out in public, then a mask may not be required.
However, let’s face it; if someone sneezes or coughs, a mask is going to minimize the droplets that are expelled from the individual. New research indicates that some of these smaller droplets may linger in the air for hours. Therefore, the argument can be made that some protection is better than none. We all know the no PPE gives us a 100% protection and certainly, cloth masks or disposable masks are not the exceptions to this rule.