Personal Protective Equipment
It is important to understand how to use a non-medical mask, and their limitations as a protective measure (see resources below).
Medical masks and PPE
Medical masks, including surgical or procedure masks, are specifically designed for health care environments and are considered PPE. These masks, along with N95 respirators, should only be used as part of PPE that would otherwise be required in health care or specialized laboratory protocols.
These masks and respirators should not be used for general protection against COVID-19 in the workplace, as they are prioritized for health care workers and COVID related research and are in very limited supply.
A non-medical mask is a mask that is not designed for medical procedures, such as surgery, dentistry or other medical procedures. These masks can be created with various materials that are able to catch the respiratory droplets you exhale when you cough, sneeze, laugh, talk shout or sing.
Masks provide a simple barrier to help prevent your droplets from reaching others and from others’ droplets from reaching you when worn correctly over your mouth AND nose. For instructions on how to properly use a mask please refer to this WorkSafe BC guide on how to properly wear a face mask.
Everyone should wear a mask, even if you do not feel sick as studies have shown that some people who develop COVID-19 do not develop symptoms (asymptomatic) and those who have not yet developed symptoms (pre-symptomatic) can still spread the virus. It is especially important to wear a mask inside when you are with people you do not live with, when you are unable to maintain 6 feet of physical distancing from others and if someone in your household is sick.
It is important to note, that some masks provide more protection than others. The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) recommends that non-medical masks be made with a tightly woven material (fabrics that do not let light pass through when held up to a light source), they have 2-3 layers and or have a pocket for a filter, and they fit your face properly without large gaps. See the BCCDC for more information on masks, mask use and care.
Please note: a face shield is NOT a substitute for a mask. It can be worn in conjunction with a mask, but does not replace a mask.
Medical experts say that it’s not necessary for you to wear gloves to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Other measures, such as physical distancing and good hygiene practices, are more effective in preventing the risk of transmission.
Units or supervisors may choose to incorporate the use of gloves in their safe work plan, in combination with other control measures. Gloves may be considered as an additional protective measure in circumstances where employees are touching items in common areas, particularly materials that other workers have or will come into contact with and/or for the usage of sensitive equipment that cannot easily be cleaned.
If gloves are incorporated in the safe work plan, supervisors must ensure that employees are using them in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and good hygiene practices. This includes:
- Choosing the proper gloves for the chemicals or other materials you are handling.
- Proper donning and doffing of gloves to minimize contamination. If you are wearing a mask, put your gloves on last, and take them off first when you are finished. Wash your hands before and after wearing gloves.
- Changing gloves after there is a tear, damage or puncture.
- Not using hand sanitizer on gloves.
Where can I get a non-medical mask or gloves?
PPE if approved as part of your safety plan will be supplied via our corporate procurement system. Faculty, staff and visitors are encouraged to bring their own mask when they come to campus.