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Wearing a face masks is strongly advised if you’re sick or are taking care of someone who’s sick. Depending on where you live in Canada, you may actually be required by law to wear a face mask when out in public.
Given that the World Health Organization is encouraging governments to ask people to wear fabric face masks when out in public, you may want to offer your staff masks anyway — even if it’s not legally required — for added protection.
With the demand for protective face masks running high, it can be tough to get the protective gear your employees need to stay safe on the job. If you’re just shopping around for yourself or your family, we recommend checking out our guide on where to buy surgical masks online.
However, if you want to buy in bulk for your business or organization, we’ve rounded up a list of online retailers that sell what you need.
It depends on where you live. Certain cities such as Ottawa, Toronto, Kingston in Ontario have implemented bylaws requiring people to wear face masks when in public. Outside these jurisdictions, businesses and other organizations may still exercise the discretion to require customers and employees to wear face masks. In some regions, wearing a mask is mandatory when riding public transit.
The consequences for failing to follow regional rules usually involve stiff fines ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
It’s expected that more cities will consider adopting similar bylaws in the future to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as per the World Health Organization’s recommendations. Previously, the WHO had issued a statement advising governments to request that people wear fabric face masks in public.
Take a look at this helpful page on the Government of Canada website to learn more about masks that offer the best protection during COVID-19. You can also learn about when and how to use masks from on the World Health Organization’s site.
Usually, bulk orders are cheaper per unit than orders of smaller quantities. If you’re a business owner, essential worker or are caring for a sick loved one and will need to use disposable surgical masks regularly, buying in bulk can be a cost-effective option.
If you are supplying disposable face masks to your employees for every shift, plan on at least one face mask per person per eight-hour workday.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends washing your hands with alcohol-based sanitizer or soap and water before putting on a face mask. Surgical masks are made to securely cover the mouth, nose and chin. Avoid touching a mask once it’s on your face to avoid contamination.
If your face masks arrive individually packaged, do not remove the packaging until you’re ready to use the product. If you’ve received a shipment of bulk masks that aren’t individually wrapped, store unused masks in a closed, airtight container until ready to use. Be sure to thoroughly wash your hands before removing masks from the container to avoid contaminating the entire shipment.
One disposable mask can last an average of eight hours before needing to be replaced. Replace your mask sooner if it has become ripped or damaged.
Don’t hang on to a used surgical mask. Remove it from behind the head and ears, and put it into a (preferably closed) garbage bag right away, after which you should wash your hands.
Surgical masks are not reusable, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so you shouldn’t try to wash and re-wear yours. For optimal performance, it’s best to properly dispose of your mask after each use and put on a fresh one the next time it’s needed.
According to public health authorities in both Canada and the US, there are several main differences between surgical masks and N95 masks.
|Surgical masks||N95 respirator masks|
|Testing||Cleared by the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). The ASTM is an international standards organization recognized in Canada that develops and publishes technical standards for products.||Evaluated, tested and approved by NIOSH (US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health), a regulatory organization recognized in Canada.|
|Purpose||Protection against large droplets of hazardous fluids and respiratory droplets emitted by the wearer.||Protection against fine particles such as dust, smoke and aerosols.|
|Filtration||No filtration||Filters at least 95% of airborne particles|
Unlike cloth masks, surgical masks are made with non-woven, melted polypropylene, polystyrene, polycarbonate or other similar types of plastic. After melting, the strands of plastic cool and bond together, a process known as “melt blowing”.
This material is used to filter out small particles while allowing the wearer to breathe more easily. Most surgical masks consist of three or four layers, sandwiching a layer of textile between two layers of melt-blown fabric.
To test if your surgical mask is made of melt-blown fabric and not cloth, follow these steps to do a melt test. Use caution when working with open flames.
Surgical masks are put through five tests to comply with regulations set by government agencies such as the FDA, NIOSH and OSHA:
Take a look at this helpful page on the Government of Canada website to learn more about masks that offer the best protection during COVID-19.
Check out the following guides to find information, requirements and retailers that sell specific types of masks.
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