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Best Practices on Employees Wearing Masks in a Food Processing Facility


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#1 Tomato Country Girl

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Posted 03 April 2020 - 03:27 PM

Good Morning,

 

Seeking any links into best practices for preparing to have our employees possibly don masks on production floor, homemade ones if we can not get store bought ones.  

 

Seeking best practices for cleaning, storing while at break, storing till the next day, any info would be greatly appreciated.  



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#2 The Food Scientist

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Posted 03 April 2020 - 03:37 PM

Good Morning,

 

Do you have any on-site laundering? Perhaps at the end of the day wash and dry them? Or if not instruct all employees to launder them at home (hopefully they are honest). If they have lockers I would suggest store them in their personal lockers so no possible cross contamination occurs.


Edited by The Food Scientist, 03 April 2020 - 03:37 PM.

Everything in food is science. The only subjective part is when you eat it. - Alton Brown.


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#3 Ryan M.

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Posted 03 April 2020 - 05:51 PM

This is a tough one because disposable masks are in critical supply and with the coming guidance from the news stating persons should be wearing masks.  We waffled on this subject with our COVID task force.  There is no one, easy solution.  

 

It will be continual assessment of the mask and potential for micro and physical risk to your products and to one another from a COVID standpoint.  We have a few N95 disposable masks on hand and employees can have up to two of them, but that's it.

 

Here's what we are seeing:

  • Masks not worn properly, especially when persons have beards and need to wear a beard net.  I've had to instruct a number of people on how to wear the mask with a beard net properly.
  • Some personnel have brought in their own mask.
  • Some personnel are complaining because they cannot get a mask which is not entirely correct.
  • Personnel are asking if they can wear the disposable masks multiple times.  At this point I'm telling them yes because of the critical supply, but they must maintain them so they do not become a microbial or foreign material problem.  We provide ziploc bags for storage.

This is all very new and will be changing I'm sure.  Our purchasing dept is working feverishly to find something.  There just is not a supply right now so alternative and custom creations will likely be needed.



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#4 Tomato Country Girl

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Posted 03 April 2020 - 07:50 PM

Thank you so much Ryan, some of what you have described we were afraid would happen.  

I appreciate the insight.

 

Kind Regards,
 



#5 Ryan M.

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Posted 03 April 2020 - 11:11 PM

So to further update...in our second COVID meeting of the day it was discussed again.  We opted to purchase gator masks / bibs, whatever they are called.  You wear around the neck and pull up over your mouth and face.  We also purchased face shields.  From what we're told the ETA on this stuff is end of the month.

 

Our CEO expressed that we all need to wear a mask and we barely have enough in stock now.  However, we are not to mandate wearing the mask.

 

Update from the government as they now say to wear masks when outdoors.  Fantastic...so now the critical supply will become even more critical.

 

Oy vey...



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#6 Charles.C

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Posted 04 April 2020 - 05:11 PM

(bit OT)

CDC continues to study the spread and effects of the novel coronavirus across the United States.  We now know from <<<recent studies >>>>  that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. 

 

This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.  In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

 

It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus.  CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.  Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.

 

The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators.  Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.
 

[ <<< XYZ >>> denotes a cross-link in original ]

 

https://www.cdc.gov/...face-cover.html

 

I speculate that although the objective of wearing a mask as stated above is for any (known or unknown) infected person to reduce the risk of their infecting other people rather than protecting themselves, it seems sort of logical that if all people do wear masks, the net result will be that all people will be "additionally" protected ?


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


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#7 veruca

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Posted 06 April 2020 - 02:26 PM

We've came up with the solution to make masks ourselves. I'm gathering materials and a group of people to make cloth masks for our employees. We have around 150 employees and the material to make 75 masks was about 80$. I have our pattern and instructions and will hand out "kits" much the same as some of the stores and redistribute them. We just can't keep up with disposable and the cost is getting heavy. I'm going go give care instructions for each mask. Hand wash at home and hang to dry nightly. Best option I can come up with as this keeps extending out. Much better than nothing. We will also do training on how to wear and use the masks correctly. 

 

veruca



#8 kfromNE

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Posted 06 April 2020 - 08:58 PM

We gave employees the option if they want to wear them. We are not supplying them. We couldn't get enough. I work in a cold environment so some of the staff had already been wearing scarfs. Basically our policy is - they need to be clean, washed regularly like all clothing or single use and not be a food safety hazard. We also provided the CDC instructions on how to make one.



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#9 GMO

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Posted 07 April 2020 - 04:31 PM

We've had some noise around this as well.

 

This is my view, which is currently shared by Public Health England.

 

There is no evidence that mask wearing in the public will help this current crisis.  There is one study from Hong Kong but it is not sufficient to ensure this is fact.  Also there is a very different social attitude to mask wearing in general in Asia and adherence to government controls (recent issues in Hong Kong notwithstanding.)

 

Most masks in use are there to protect other people from virus ejected by the wearer, not to protect the wearer from breathing in the virus. 

 

Most commercially available masks in stock are a poor fit.

 

When putting on and removing a mask, doing so without proper hygiene can result in more contamination, not less.  Also a mask being on the face when not being used to wearing one can result in touching the face more.

 

Much like gloves and hand hygiene, a false sense of security is often created by mask use which results in people ignoring other controls.  I saw this yesterday with two members of staff stood shoulder to shoulder wearing masks (before we told them to be removed) rather than 2m apart.  The best way is still to keep your distance.  I also challenged another person wearing a dust mask (ineffective anyway) in the factory and he was trying to talk to me but I couldn't understand what he was saying.  It's noisy and without being able to see lip movements, it's impossible to understand.  So he kept closing his distance and I kept stepping back and explaining, this is one of the reasons why he shouldn't be wearing it.

 

Masks not issued by site are not part of hygienic workwear.  Some contain fibres, staples etc which could become food contaminants.

 

Masks can become damp quickly which can negate whatever filtration rating they have as viruses could be wicked through the material.

 

I'm not saying this is not a moving issue and just reassuring people can be helpful in controlling absence relating to anxiety but what I am saying is that the health and safety rationale for mask use is at best "not confirmed" at worst "actively negative."



#10 jkoratich712

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Posted 07 April 2020 - 07:05 PM

We just made the announcement that employee's are permitted to bring in masks to wear if they choose. We gave guidelines on what is acceptable and not acceptable, they must follow GMP's, can't have buttons or bobbypins/etc, and must wear a beard shield over the mask.

 

We are also sourcing disposable and cloth ones (local church group is making) and are planning on mandating the wearing of masks once we get the inventory in. 



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#11 GMO

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Posted 07 April 2020 - 07:14 PM

The WHO have now come out and said that masks are not necessary.

https://www.theguard...ho-after-review



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#12 The Food Scientist

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Posted 07 April 2020 - 07:21 PM

The WHO have now come out and said that masks are not necessary.

https://www.theguard...ho-after-review

 

Oh Lord.... -_-


Everything in food is science. The only subjective part is when you eat it. - Alton Brown.


#13 kfromNE

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Posted 07 April 2020 - 07:34 PM

The WHO have now come out and said that masks are not necessary.

https://www.theguard...ho-after-review

What I tell our employees when they ask - and they ask. Our policy is and will continue to be: we follow the recommendations of the CDC and the State and County Health Departments along with what our corporate office puts into place. Which in the case of masks - voluntary. This will be and continue to be a point of contention. I personally have mixed feelings on it. I've read both pros and cons for it.

 

A note: I do look at what information the WHO puts out as well. However, when the WHO and CDC put two different recommendations out - we have to go with the CDC recommendations especially when the science on this isn't absolutely clear.

 

Though for me - we already allowed scarves so we just clarified our policy a little to include masks.



#14 Tomato Country Girl

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Posted 07 April 2020 - 07:41 PM

kfromNE

 

I agree with you on WHO vs CDC.  We are struggling do we or don't we, so much to think about.  When I have mine on I am always fussing with my face so my perception is I will not be the only one.  

 

Thanks everyone for your thoughts so greatly appreciated 

Stay safe.................



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#15 wtheriot

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Posted 07 April 2020 - 09:16 PM

The WHO have now come out and said that masks are not necessary.

https://www.theguard...ho-after-review

 

The WHO is not a source we feel has been reliable. The CDC seems to address things We have our local governments recommending masks in public, therefore we have to find ways to implement them within our plant safely and within our GMP policy. We aren't looking at masks as protecting the wearer but rather minimizing the amount of spit and aerosols that can come from the wearer. We have also instituted a minimize talking policy. Employees only talk about work related items, we are discouraging idle chat in work areas. Again this is to reduce the amount of aerosols and spit.

 

Its all changing day by day from The Federal level down to local, so we adjust accordingly.



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#16 Charles.C

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Posted 07 April 2020 - 11:00 PM

The WHO have now come out and said that masks are not necessary.

https://www.theguard...ho-after-review

Thks for link.

 

A few sections in the lengthy source document are -

 

Community settings

 

Studies  of  influenza,  influenza-like  illness,  and  human coronaviruses  provide  evidence  that  the  use  of  a  medical mask can prevent the spread of infectious droplets from an infected person to someone else and potential contamination of  the  environment  by  these  droplets.13 There  is  limited evidence that wearing a medical mask by healthy individuals in the households  or  among contacts  of  a  sick  patient,  or among attendees of mass gatherings may be beneficial as a preventive  measure. 14-23  However,  there  is  currently  no evidence that wearing a mask (whether medical or other types) by healthy persons in the wider community setting, including  universal  community  masking,  can  prevent  them  from infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.

 

And this further "analysis" -

 

Advice to decision makers on the use of masks for healthy people in community settings

As described above, the wide use of masks by healthy people in the community setting is not supported by current evidence and carries uncertainties and critical risks. WHO offers the following advice to decision makers so they apply a risk-based approach.

Decisions makers should consider the following:

1.  Purpose of mask use: the rationale and reason for mask use should be clear– whether it is to be used for source control (used by infected persons) or prevention of COVID-19 (used by healthy persons)  
2.  Risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus in the local context: 
­  - The population: current epidemiology about how widely  the virus is circulating (e.g., clusters of cases versus community transmission), as well as local surveillance and testing capacity (e.g., contact tracing and follow up, ability to carry out testing). ­ 

 - The individual: working in close contact with public (e.g., community health worker, cashier)

3.  Vulnerability of the person/population to develop severe disease or be at higher risk of death, e.g. people with comorbidities, such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes mellitus, and older people 
4.  Setting in which the population lives in terms of population density, the ability to carry out physical distancing (e.g.  on a crowded bus), and risk of rapid spread (e.g. closed settings, slums, camps/camp-like settings).  
5.  Feasibility: availability and costs of the mask, and tolerability by individuals.
6.  Type of mask: medical mask versus nonmedical mask (see below).

 In addition to these factors, potential advantages of the use of mask by healthy people in the community setting include reducing potential exposure risk from infected person during the “pre-symptomatic” period and stigmatization of individuals wearing mask for source control.

 

However, the following potential risks should be carefully taken into account in any decision-making process:  
•  self-contamination that can occur by touching and reusing contaminated mask
•  depending on type of mask used, potential breathing difficulties   
•  false sense of security, leading to potentially less adherence to other preventive measures such as physical distancing and hand hygiene  
•  diversion of mask supplies and consequent shortage of mask for health care workers  
•  diversion of resources from effective public health measures, such as hand hygiene

Whatever approach is taken, it is important to develop a strong communication strategy to explain to the population the circumstances, criteria, and reasons for decisions. The population should receive clear instructions on what masks to wear, when and how (see mask management section), and on the importance of continuing to strictly follow all other IPC measures (e.g., hand hygiene, physical distancing, and others).

 

Type of Mask

WHO stresses that it is critical that medical masks and respirators be prioritized for health care workers.  

The use of masks made of other materials (e.g., cotton fabric), also known as nonmedical masks, in the community setting has not been well evaluated. There is no current evidence to make a recommendation for or against their use in this setting.

WHO is collaborating with research and development partners to better understand the effectiveness and efficiency of nonmedical masks. WHO is also strongly encouraging countries that issue recommendations for the use of masks in healthy people in the community to conduct research on this critical topic. WHO will update its guidance when new evidence becomes available.

In the interim, decision makers may be moving ahead with advising the use of nonmedical masks. Where this is the case, the following features related to nonmedical masks should be taken into consideration:
•  Numbers of layers of fabric/tissue
•  Breathability of material used
•  Water repellence/hydrophobic qualities
•  Shape of mask
•  Fit of mask

 

https://www.who.int/...-ncov)-outbreak


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#17 GMO

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Posted 08 April 2020 - 04:09 AM

I know the US have taken a different view, but in doing so, have bought up masks at a higher price, gazumping purchasers who were lined up to buy them for front line high risk roles in the EU.

I'm not sure at this stage anybody knows who is right on any of the measures but to use any or encourage the use when there are shortages across the world in healthcare and police for example (where the person has no choice but to get close) seems like it's a problem to me, even if masks are effective, which isn't by any means conclusive.



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#18 kettlecorn

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Posted 08 April 2020 - 01:53 PM

I completely agree with what others have said about the conflicting evidence/advice and all the problems therein. Our facility has decided to follow the recommendations of the CDC/FDA in providing voluntary masks in our facility, which we had an employee create, based upon designs by the CDC (though we have modified them a little) with 100% cotton material and a removable and replaceable filter (a coffee filter). These masks are to be worn only once a day and then laundered. Training has been provided on the proper use of masks, and a six foot distance policy is in effect regardless. N95 masks are in short supply and it would be irresponsible to hoard them when they are needed by medical professionals. 

 

The only places masks are mandatory as policy for us is in shipping/receiving and the front office, which still receives mail and so forth. Otherwise we are simply following this recommendation:

 

https://www.cdc.gov/...face-cover.html



#19 kettlecorn

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Posted 08 April 2020 - 02:20 PM

I should also have mentioned ours are sewn masks, based upon a modified pattern found here:

 

https://www.cdc.gov/...-coverings.html


Edited by kettlecorn, 08 April 2020 - 02:20 PM.


#20 George Adam N

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Posted 16 April 2020 - 01:59 PM

thank you for sharing this, very helpful

 

I should also have mentioned ours are sewn masks, based upon a modified pattern found here:

 

https://www.cdc.gov/...-coverings.html



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#21 Miri

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Posted 17 April 2020 - 12:55 PM

We have a mask policy company-wide (office, lab, manufacturing) that masks are highly recommended at work.  The company provides each employee a disposable mask every day (we bought them 2 months ago).  For manufacturing employees, mask use follows the uniform policy.  If you opt to wear a mask, you must wear a company-issued mask, and wear a new one each day. 



#22 shill76

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Posted 29 April 2020 - 03:00 PM

Miri,

 

Would you mind sharing your company policy on this.  I am working on one now and wanted to get ideas.

We have a mask policy company-wide (office, lab, manufacturing) that masks are highly recommended at work.  The company provides each employee a disposable mask every day (we bought them 2 months ago).  For manufacturing employees, mask use follows the uniform policy.  If you opt to wear a mask, you must wear a company-issued mask, and wear a new one each day. 



#23 El Molino

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Posted 29 April 2020 - 07:35 PM

When our employees work in our RTE areas it is our standard GMPs for wear a mask - no kill step when filling RTE /cooked products - we have had to look at potential overuse in other areas as we will soon have a shortage- some supplies have actually disappeared. As for wearing daily in other areas we have set the same WHO parameters for physical distances.  The plant is in a small community and so far no community spread has occurred - risk assessment has been low - still no travel is recommended to the big city



#24 Jackobelly

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Posted 16 June 2020 - 03:56 PM

This is a tough one because disposable masks are in critical supply and with the coming guidance from the news stating persons should be wearing masks.  We waffled on this subject with our COVID task force.  There is no one, easy solution.  

 

It will be continual assessment of the mask and potential for micro and physical risk to your products and to one another from a COVID standpoint.  We have a few N95 disposable masks on hand and employees can have up to two of them, but that's it.

 

Here's what we are seeing:

  • Masks not worn properly, especially when persons have beards and need to wear a beard net.  I've had to instruct a number of people on how to wear the mask with a beard net properly.
  • Some personnel have brought in their own mask.
  • Some personnel are complaining because they cannot get a mask which is not entirely correct.
  • Personnel are asking if they can wear the disposable masks multiple times.  At this point I'm telling them yes because of the critical supply, but they must maintain them so they do not become a microbial or foreign material problem.  We provide ziploc bags for storage.

This is all very new and will be changing I'm sure.  Our purchasing dept is working feverishly to find something.  There just is not a supply right now so alternative and custom creations will likely be needed.

 

Hi Ryan,

 

I'm a bit late to join the discussion but we just started wearing masks at work because we can't follow the 2m distancing.

How do you wear a beard net and a face mask at the same time?

 

Thanks



#25 Ryan M.

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Posted 16 June 2020 - 05:40 PM

Face mask and then beard net over the face mask.

 

Some face covering provide full coverage of beard, such as a neck gaiter or gaiter face mask, and in these cases we allow the mask without a beard net.

 

Hi Ryan,

 

I'm a bit late to join the discussion but we just started wearing masks at work because we can't follow the 2m distancing.

How do you wear a beard net and a face mask at the same time?

 

Thanks



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