The best way to avoid contracting or spreading COVID-19 is to wear a mask when you leave your home. That’s why almost all states have guidelines on the books recommending or requiring them. But since you can’t do all your work from home, eventually you and your employees will have to go back to the jobsite. In many cases, that means you’ll need to persuade them to wear masks. Here’s what you can do.
Stay Updated on PPE Guidelines
The one constant right now is change, which means that you will need to stay updated on the current best practices. At present, until a vaccine is both available and widely used, wearing a mask and practicing social distancing on the jobsite is likely to be recommended if not required. Remember that requirements may be implemented at the state level or by the city. This means that you should plan to follow whichever rules are the strictest. In some states, inspectors are showing up unannounced and fining companies that do not comply with local regulations.
Identify Acceptable Masks
There have been many innovations in masks that people can wear with in the last few months. This doesn’t mean that all of them have the same level of protection. As a general rule, N95 masks are the best tools to avoid spreading contagion like COVID-19. But in many parts of the country, N95 masks have been prohibitively expensive or completely unavailable. This means that you may have to use something else. Keep in mind that any mask that has an open space or a mesh screen to improve air circulation is unlikely to provide nearly as much protection.
Talk to Employees About Common Problems
Ultimately, people are going to have a variety of reasons that they do not want to wear a mask. If you live in a part of California that becomes extremely hot during the summer, wearing a mask all day may be more difficult than if you live and work near the coast. Some people have common breathing conditions that can make wearing a mask regularly difficult to manage. But you won’t know which problems your employees are having until you ask them. Give workers the opportunity to speak frankly about their concerns, and make a note of them. Be sure to avoid dismissing anything out of hand, because it’s better to find a solution instead.
Look for Solutions
There isn’t going to be a solution for every single problem people have related to wearing masks. The fact of the matter is that most people aren’t accustomed to wearing them on a regular basis, especially not at work. But you know that it is something that can be done, so it’s time to research new approaches. People in industries like manufacturing or healthcare may have to wear masks all day long, every day. Research how these people manage to do it to get ideas. Consider options like:
- Ties instead of elastics
- Ear-savers that hook onto elastic loops
- Disposable masks for people working in hot weather
- A variety of mask styles, so people can choose which ones work for them
Giving your employees choices may make it easier for them to commit to wearing them.
As with any work safety policy, you can only expect a high degree of compliance if you can be consistent about enforcing it. For example, you wouldn’t criticize employees for failing to wear personal protective gear that you did not provide for them. Similarly, you need to recognize that if they are unsure when you expect them to wear masks, they may follow their own instincts. Set a policy for mask usage that is clear, publicly available and easy to review on the jobsite. These steps will help to ensure that people know what is expected of them and that you will enforce the policy if they don’t follow it.
Wearing masks is part of a new normal, but it’s also a common part of practicing jobsite safety. For more information about starting your own contracting business, contact CSLS today!