Canadian HR Reporter

November 2021 CAN

Canadian HR Reporter is the national journal of human resource management. It features the latest workplace news, HR best practices, employment law commentary and tools and tips for employers to get the most out of their workforce.

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www.hrreporter.com 3 incubation period of the disease, before symptoms appear, he says. "So, you want to ask people wearing masks both to lower your contiguity and to be protected from other people who will be contagious. So, if everybody wears a mask, it has a proven protective effect." Masking indoors remains a very important control, particularly high- quality masks with at least three layers that are tight fitting around the face, says Baker. But people need to be aware of when they might need to change their mask or take a break from their mask. "It's important that workplaces have places and opportunities for people to take breaks from their masks," she says. "If you give people the opportunity to take off their masks and relax, then [during] the time that they have it on, they're more likely to wear it properly, In studying the difference in infection rates between bus drivers, streetcar drivers and subway drivers, Furness found that streetcar and subway drivers were in their own compartment with different air, which is great. Bus drivers, however, didn't have the full shield of plexiglass, so they were sharing more air. "Bus drivers get sick, or have been getting sick, in the TTC at a much higher rate than streetcar or subway drivers… I'm not saying we've got to rip Plexiglas out as fast as we can. But we're relying on it and we're placing our faith in it. And we shouldn't, because when you're sharing air, you're sharing air." The same could be said for grocery store workers who have a very dangerous job, he says, as they're not in a bubble at all, so they're sharing air. "That's concerning to me." Mask mandates Masks fulfill two functions. For one, the wearer will not be expelling large drop- lets and will be protected against large droplets, especially within two metres of distance as large droplets fall on the ground at a relatively short distance, says Tellier. "Wearing a mask continues to be a very good idea because as it turns out, if you wear a mask, the amount of virus or virus particle that you will release in the room is going to be considerably reduced — but it is not zero. Second, wearing a mask will protect you considerably against smaller aerosols because the self-rating capacity of a mask is surprisingly good, even down to a few microns." COVID is so much more contagious compared to the SARS virus because COVID is contagious during the because they know that it's only for an amount of time... That is something that I think is helpful to keeping people safe: to keep the mass compliance high." "What we don't want is people taking breaks in bathrooms; that's a close, indoor environment. And we have seen evidence that the virus can linger in those spaces." While single- or double-layer cloth masks are helpful, we can do better, says Baker. "Some of the more protective KN95 or even those pleated surgical masks can provide more protection. And those are things that workplaces can buy and distribute and expect people to use." In 2020, the kind of masks people were wearing didn't seem to matter very much, but as COVID gets more contagious, it's going to become more important for people to wear N95 or KN95 masks when they have a lot of exposure to the public, says Furness. "It would be helpful to enforce masks that properly cover the nose and have a wire over the nose that helps shape the mask [so people] don't have a giant gap over the nose. I've seen far too many nostrils over the last year and a half." If it's a cloth mask, there should be three layers, with a propylene layer in the middle and cotton on the outside. It should also have a large surface area, he says. "Masks for some people seem to have gotten smaller and smaller... But the smaller the mask, the harder it is to breathe and the worse the fit is. You actually want a generous-sized mask." Another area of concerns is elevators, with people often taking their masks off if they're alone, says Furness. VISIBLE CLEANING APPRECIATED "If you have limited time and limited resources and your primary concern is COVID-19, then time and effort is better spent with other controls." Marissa Baker, University of Washington "That person has just filled that small box with aerosols and put the mask back on and not thought that they've done anything wrong at all… Elevators don't necessarily have great air circulation. So that to me is really concerning." Ventilation, filtration advantages One of the final areas that has gotten more attention, with good reason, is air quality indoors, putting ventilation and filtration in the spotlight. "In general, you want to be bringing in as much fresh air as possible, whether that's from opening a window or from setting your mechanical ventilation to bringing in more outside air. That's important," says Baker. You want to also be filtering that air to the extent you're able, whether that's through upgraded filters on your mechanical ventilation system, or a size appropriate HEPA filter. "Anything you can do to get more outside air into the space and to filter the air that's in the space, that's going to be valuable," she says, but filtering systems are also not one size fits all. "If you're talking about a portable HEPA unit, those are going to be most 91% Percentage of people who are more aware of cleaning measures in public spaces such as hand sanitizer stations or staff wiping down surfaces with disinfectant 75% Percentage of people who said they would feel more comfortable and confident that prevention measures were being enforced if they could see visible evidence of cleaning happening 73% Percentage of people working outside their homes who have taken on additional cleaning responsibilities in the workplace Source: Harrison Wipes, U.K.

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