I'm new to the group but have been reading the emails for the last few weeks. I can appreciate the variety of perspectives in this new era. I think overall, influencing people's behaviors is the true challenge. Giving them practical tools they can incorporate into their work is better than divergent new practices to counteract perceived risks.
We are not requiring face coverings except when social distancing can't be maintained, but encourage those who feel better protected to do so at any time. As for Laboratories, we have a lot of local exhaust and VAV hoods in use and people are spread out for the most part. My guess is the ventilation is a very effective control. We have FR face coverings, but nobody likes them and face shields offer additional hazard (splash) protection. But let me share our true focus.
We are focused on managing the primary exposure/transmission risks. Our tools are daily self-assessments, reporting of any symptoms and contact tracing, and to maintain vigilant social distancing, handwashing and enhanced cleaning and disinfecting practices. We have social distancing limits posted in elevator lobbies, stairwells, break rooms, and in every conference room. Our cleaning crews are constantly going through common areas. We trained all our supervisors and above on our expectation to lead by example and enforce these practices with their teams. We gave employees COVID Care Kits (sanitizer, wipes, masks, etc.) and made a professional production video that clearly states expectations and work practices. We encouraged them to take responsibility for themselves and speak kindly to others not practicing good habits. We changed schedules to ensure field teams are isolated from others. We made work the safe place to be. Our facilities operate 24/7 and so far we have not had a single case of workplace transmission. But it does not stop in the workplace, we tell them they have to take it home and practice the same vigilance in public places. My sense is that is the big risk, not the workplace. Hope this helps.
Jamin Kazarian, CIH CSP
Sr. Manager, Refinery Safety Affairs
From: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**PRINCETON.EDU]
On Behalf Of Tyrell Towle
Sent: June 04, 2020 14:33
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] cloth face masks
Thank you, Zack. I was always taught that wearing an inappropriate face mask can be more harmful than not wearing one at all. For example, face masks can cause solvents and other volatiles to build up behind the mask when working with such substances, increasing exposure. I do not require the use of face coverings in my laboratories, as there are no hazards that require it. I provide disposable face masks for employees to wear if they want to during certain (dusty) operations. Also, every time I've been required to wear a protective face mask I have had to undergo a physical examination with a medical doctor to determine whether I am healthy enough to use one. Are we not taking liabilities upon ourselves if we require face coverings in a laboratory setting? What if someone has a medical condition affecting the lungs?
On Thu, Jun 4, 2020 at 1:21 PM Zack Mansdorf <mansdorfz**At_Symbol_Here**bellsouth.net> wrote:
This has become an incredible circular discussion that I believe will be never ending.
If you are doing lab work that requires a respirator, use the correct respirator. If you are doing lab work that does not require a respirator (e.g., in a hood), then use common sense. If a face covering is more of a risk than not wearing a face covering (e.g., flammability, corrosivity, vision, etc.) than do not use a face covering and just maintain a 6 foot separation from other persons. If you cannot and the face covering will not work, use a face shield. Before my colleague and friend, Monna, admonishes me……..if you have access to an N-95 or better, use that. It has become pretty clear that the vast majority of cases are from person to person contact and the likelihood of a younger person suffering severe consequences is very small. Consider the overall risk of wearing a face covering versus not wearing a face covering given the lab work. I do not think there is a universal solution for all circumstances nor a universal material that can be used in all circumstances.
That's my non-CDC sanctioned opinion.
S.Z. Mansdorf, PhD, CIH, CSP, QEP
Consultant in EHS and Sustainability
7184 Via Palomar
Boca Raton, FL 33433
CDC is recommending the use of cloth face mask in academic institutions, but the question is what is the best fabric for them. Lab coats in academic labs are supposed to be chemical- and fire-resistant. Does this apply to face masks as well? If so, is there a source for them?
Patricia Redden, Ph.D.
Professor, Chemistry Department
Fellow, American Chemical Society
Fellow, ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety
SAINT PETER'S UNIVERSITY
The Jesuit University of New Jersey
2641 John F. Kennedy Boulevard
Jersey City, New Jersey 07306
Named #1 in the nation for transformation in 2018 by the American Council on Education/Fidelity Investments
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