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Which mask works best? People filmed coughing and sneezing to find out.

Which mask works best? People filmed coughing and sneezing to find out.

In light of masks being mandatory across all of Victoria and highly recommended in some other states, we have republished this article from The Conversation.

Which mask works best? We filmed people coughing and sneezing to find out.

If you’re not sure whether wearing a face mask is worth it, or you need to wear a mask but are unsure which type, our new research should help you decide.

We took videos of what happens when you talk, cough and sneeze in different scenarios — while not wearing a mask, wearing two different types of cloth masks, or wearing a surgical mask. The results, published in the journal Thorax, are clear.

A surgical mask was the most effective at blocking droplets and aerosols from talking, coughing and sneezing. But if you can’t get hold of one, a cloth mask is the next best thing, and the more layers the better.

How different types of mask work to block droplets from talking, coughing and sneezing (Thorax). 

 

Here’s what we did and what we found

You can be infected with the coronavirus, but not show symptoms. So you cannot identify an infected person just by looking at them. And you may be infected (and infectious) but not know it.

So we wanted to compare how effective different types of masks were at preventing outward transmission of droplets while talking, coughing and sneezing. These are the types of masks the public might use to reduce community transmission.

We compared using no mask with two different types of cloth masks made from DIY templates provided online (one mask had a single layer of cloth; the other had two layers), and a three-layered surgical mask.

To visualise the droplets and aerosols you may not otherwise see, we used an LED lighting system with a high-speed camera.

We confirmed that even speaking generates substantial droplets. Coughing and sneezing (in that order) generate even more.

A three-ply surgical mask was significantly better than a one-layered cloth mask at reducing droplet emissions caused by speaking, coughing and sneezing, followed by a double-layer cloth face covering.

A single-layer cloth face covering also reduced the droplet spread caused by speaking, coughing and sneezing but was not as good as a two-layered cloth mask or surgical mask.

We do not know how this translates to infection risk, which will depend on how many asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic infected people are around. However, it shows a single layer is not as good a barrier as a double layer.

Using sewing machine to make face mask
The more layers the better when it comes to making your own cloth mask. 

 

What does this mean?

With mandated mask use in Greater Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire, we may face shortages of surgical masks. So it is important to understand the design principles of cloth masks.

We did not test more than two layers, but generally, more layers are better. For example, a 12-layered cloth mask is about as protective as a surgical mask, and reduces infection risk by 67%.

We acknowledge it’s difficult to sew together 12 layers of fabric. But there are steps you can take to make cloth masks more effective. You can:

  • increase the number of layers (at least three layers)
  • use a water-resistant fabric for the outer layer
  • choose fabric with a high thread count (so a tighter weave, for instance from a good quality sheet is generally better than a fabric with a looser weave that you can clearly see light through)
  • hybrid fabrics such as cotton–silk, cotton–chiffon, or cotton–flannel may be good choices because they provide better filtration and are more comfortable to wear
  • make sure your mask fits and seals well around your face
  • wash your mask daily after using it.

The evidence is mounting

In practice, we don’t yet know which has a greater effect — wearing masks to prevent infected people spreading to others or protecting well people from inhaling infected aerosols. Probably both are equally important.

In Missouri, two infected hairdressers kept working while infectious, but wore a mix of cloth and surgical masks, as did their 139 clients. No client was infected.

However, one hairdresser infected her household family members, as she did not wear a mask at home, and neither did her family.

This is reassuring evidence that infection risk is reduced when everyone wears masks.


How to make your own cloth mask

During widespread community transmission, a mask or homemade face covering can make a difference — both by protecting well people and blocking infected aerosols and droplets from an infectious person.

So, as many Victorians start living with mandated face masks, research from our group and others suggests throwing a scarf over your face is not as protective as a well-designed cloth mask with several layers. The Victorian government provides instructions on how to make a good cloth mask. There are many videos showing how, including a no-sew method. There are also community groups making cloth masks and providing helpful information.

How to make a mask out of a t-shirt. No sewing required.

Additional resource: Does your homemade mask work? https://theconversation.com/does-your-homemade-mask-work-142675

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Authors: C Raina MacIntyre, Professor of Global Biosecurity, NHMRC Principal Research Fellow, Head, Biosecurity Program, Kirby Institute, UNSW; Abrar Ahmad Chughtai, Epidemiologist, UNSW; Charitha de Silva, Lecturer, UNSW; Con Doolan, Professor, School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, UNSW; Prateek Bahl, PhD Candidate, School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, UNSW, and Shovon Bhattacharjee, PhD Candidate, The Kirby Institute, UNSW

The Conversation

From our blog

WHS Learner Profile – Kevin Walker

WHS Learner Profile – Kevin Walker

Kevin Walker recently undertook the  BSB41415 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety, a nationally recognised qualification which trained him to identify hazards in the workplace, assist with responding to incidents, assess and control risk, and consult on work...

read more

7 tips for keeping your remote working team safe and engaged

7 tips for keeping your remote working team safe and engaged

What does ‘work’ look like for you and your team in this current situation?

If your team is working remotely, there may be a lack of certainty about when we may all be able to return to work as we knew it, and when we do, what will it be like?  Even over conferencing platforms like Zoom or WebEx, chances are the face-to-face natural social interactions you’d share in the workplace have dramatically diminished over the past few months.

At the same time, there may be a change in domestic dynamics – perhaps both you and your partner are working from home using technology, you may have children still in the home which presents its own challenges. Plus many are on reduced hours and are trying to do more with less time.

As a leader, you also worry about looking after your peoples’ wellbeing, output and results while dealing with your own situation. We all have different levels of resilience, different needs for social interaction, different needs for the amount of feedback and interaction with our leaders.

The effect can be, to say the least, psychologically stressing on everyone.

Yet work needs to go on. How do you do this?

Firstly as a leader, identify what your needs are at this time.
How does being naturally introverted or extroverted impact you in this situation and under what conditions do you do your best work? Are you missing the hum of the office or are you happy working squirrelled away from your remote location?

These factors will likely influence your leadership response and accessibility at this time.

What we do know, however, is that under our obligations under the WHS/OHS Acts, Regulations and Codes of Practice such as Communication and Consultation and Risk Management – leaders in organisations need to demonstrate Duty of Care.

Here are 7 tips for keeping your people safe and engaged while working remotely

1.Ensure your people are safe wherever they are working
Employers’ duties extend to workers who work from home or remotely, and must take steps to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their workers.  Comcare has developed a Working From Home Checklist for employers and workers with guidance and measures on how they can meet their respective work health and safety obligations.

Download the Working From Home Checklist here >>.

2. Give people space
Acknowledge that work is different in many aspects when working remotely. This is the time to assess people on their output, not the clock, and short of installing surveillance cameras in everyone’s home, leaders have to trust people. A study from the Society for Human Resource Management found 77% of workers reported greater productivity while working offsite; 30% said they accomplished more in less time and 24 % said they accomplished more in the same amount of time.

Encourage your people to use outdoor spaces where possible when they take breaks from their computer and try to incorporate some exercise or other activity as part of their working day.

Trust people to do the right things, even though their days might be a mash-up of stop-start-stop-start-stop-stop-start, most people are bending over backwards to do a great job from home.

3.Create community – The Virtual Water Cooler
Create an open room in an online meeting tool like Zoom, WebEX, Skype or Microsoft Teams, and give your team the meeting code so they can join from wherever they are.
Set a time in the workday that works for everyone, say a morning coffee break, afternoon tea or end of the week “wine time” (or “whine time”) where people drop into the online meeting and can see each other and talk about non-work related things. Being able to see one another makes a difference. This is not a work meeting, it’s an essential mental health break.

4. Communicate and tell it straight
Create a weekly “News from the Trenches” via email, video or Facebook live (to a private group of your people, if it’s appropriate for your workplace) –– that outlines how the organisation is going – any initiatives, new clients/opportunities – feedback from clients and customers – how many sales made etc. Be straight, but positive where you can. Anything that reinforces that the business is making headway. A lot of people are terrified about losing their jobs or businesses closing down for good. If you can, reassure them of the steps the business is taking, what government assistance your business is utilising to keep them employed and the business operating, as well as future plans. Knowing is better than the fear of the unknown.

5. Reach out personally
As a leader, call your people regularly and ask “How are you going?”, “What can I/the business do to support you?”, “Do you have the resources to do your job remotely?” and check-in on their wellbeing. Keep them up to date with anything impacting their specific role or responsibilities and ask for ways that you can collaborate to further improve the remote working scenario.
If someone is struggling who is usually a great performer, reach out and ask them how they’re doing and seek to understand where they are at – is it a resourcing issue? The business landscape? Are the complexities of their specific role challenging to do remotely? Is it stress from the dynamics at home? Complete exhaustion? The key is to also listen and acknowledge rather than just talking.

6. Acknowledge people
Most team members thrive on positive feedback, acknowledge them for what they’ve done well either publically or personally and let them know their hard work under the current working conditions hasn’t gone unnoticed.

7. Turn fears into ideas – innovate
While some industries and business are being disrupted and decimated by the pandemic response, others are innovating their way to survival. Ask your team if they see any opportunities to innovate – has the current situation created any opportunities to offer new products, in new ways into new channels or to innovate with processes? Ask if people have any suggestions or can see any new opportunities – how can you turn fears into ideas? Your people are some of the best resources you’ll have for coming up with business innovation and this may be a new opportunity to thrive, both as a business and as an engaged remote team.

Research source: Society for Human Resource Management 
https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/technology/pages/teleworkers-more-productive-even-when-sick.aspx


Want to train your staff at home or remotely?
LDN Interactive (LDN-i) – helping organisations train and develop staff while isolated

Leadership Dimensions, Safety Dimensions and Workplace Dimensions programs are now available through a facilitator-led, real-time, interactive training environment – via computer.

We don’t offer pre-recorded online programs – just the same experience of our face-to-face programs, delivered differently.

Find out more >>

How to talk to kids about COVID-19 with resources for parents and children

How to talk to kids about COVID-19 with resources for parents and children

How can parents and carers manage the questions, fears and concerns from children about COVID-19?

We’ve put together some ideas, videos and a free downloadable resource for kids under 7 to help.

With the world in the grip of the COVID-19 response, parents and carers are wondering how best to manage the questions, fears and concerns from children. Even for adults it seems like a different world, we’re all dealing with fears about contagion, social norms are shifting, our regular actives are interrupted, institutions are closing, there is anxiety about food and resource security and uncertain work situations. As a result, children have varying levels of awareness and understanding of what’s going on.

To help you navigate this time, we’ve put together a useful guide on how to talk to your children about COVID-19 with a few useful resources.

How to Talk to Kids About the Coronavirus (a primer for parents)

Direct link: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=WhVad8ToCiU&feature=emb_logo

Coronavirus Explained! (for kids)

Matter-of-fact, easily understood, child-friendly video from Dr Michelle Dickinson (aka Nanogirl) explaining COVID-19 using a plush toy, experiments and highlighting the benefits of handwashing.

Direct link: https://www.youtube.com/embed/OPsY-jLqaXM

Here are some other things you can do when talking to kids

Be factual in a child-friendly way and control uncertainty

Young children have the right to know what’s going on. Explain the facts in a child-friendly way (you can use the video above), telling them the evidence so far shows children are less likely to experience severe symptoms than older adults. Ask open questions and listen to how your child feels about the situation, don’t minimise the situation but help them process their feelings and reassure them there is a plan to keep them safe.

Here is a great activity resource for younger children #COVIBOOK– A printable book with activities for kids under 7.

Mindheart.co has created a free short printable book for kids under 7 to support and reassure children and ease kids’ anxiety regarding COVID-19. It’s a starter for families to discuss the full range of emotions arising from the current situation. The resources don’t seek to be a source of scientific information, but rather a tool based on fantasy, and you can print this material so children can draw on it. Remember that emotions are processed through repetitive play and stories read multiple times. Share COVIBOOK and help ease children’s anxiety all over the world.

Download the book here>> 

Direct link: https://660919d3-b85b-43c3-a3ad-3de6a9d37099.filesusr.com/ugd/64c685_319c5acf38d34604b537ac9fae37fc80.pdf

 

Be mindful of a child’s media consumption

The pandemic response has overtaken the media and many of us have been glued to the 24/7 news cycle for updates. Coverage often features strong images of full-covering hazmat suits, people with masks and sick people in hospital – this can be terrifying for children.

Let’s also remember that many Australians were impacted by the horrific bushfires and the media was full of stories and images of people and animals suffering. Although these visuals have disappeared from the media cycle (but the impact is ongoing for those effected), as a community we’ve all been exposed to images and stories that trigger a fear response. These feelings can linger long after the immediate threat has been removed and children being particularly sensitive. The COVID-19 situation may validate the feeling that the ‘world isn’t a safe place’ anymore.

Turn off the TV when children are around or limit the amount of media they are exposed to.

If they do see these images, debrief them on what they’ve seen, explaining everyone is working together to stop this spreading, explain the facts and reassure them you are taking all precautions to keep them and other members of the family safe and they can help by practising good hygiene.

 

Take care of yourself

Ever wonder why the safety messages on a plane instruct that if oxygen masks are required that adults fit their own oxygen mask first before helping others, including their children? It’s because if the adult is attending to others without their mask fitted, they could lose consciousness and they aren’t capable of helping their children or others.

These are uncertain and stressful times impacting everything from usual daily activities, social engagements, work and work stability, finances and family dynamics, social movement, workplaces and family – as parents and carers, we can only help those we care about if we take care of personal own wellbeing.

The Guardian has published a useful article on how to manage anxiety and the COVID-19 response. It is written for those who are struggling, but there are useful suggestions in the article we can all implement:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/mar/16/coronavirus-health-anxiety

 

More from our blog

Leading through uncertain times – how to be a leader through the COVID-19 response

Leading through uncertain times – how to be a leader through the COVID-19 response

How can leaders make things feel as normal as possible to support ‘business as usual’ when we’re certainly not in a ‘business as usual’ environment?

 

So here we are at the beginning of a seismic disruption to workplaces all around the world with the COVID-19 response. Organisations are shifting the way they’re doing businesses, some are closing temporarily, others are mandating their people to work from home, and some are doing both.

This is a challenge for leaders. How can leaders make things feel as normal as possible to support ‘business as usual’ when we’re certainly not in a ‘business as usual’ environment?

The US military coined the acronym ‘VUCA’ to describe times of rapid and unpredictable change that are Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. VUCA can be used to explore the challenges surrounding the COVID-19 landscape and can double as a simple catch all summary for “Everything is going completely NUTS out there!”

It can also serve as a very useful frame for how leaders should and should not respond at this time as leaders can often display the VUCA characteristics in their own leadership style. This is even more detrimental in the current landscape.

Mertz (2014) gives leaders some tips on leading through VUCA times through the acronym DURT – being Direct, Understandable, Reliable and Trustworthy.

How you can apply this in a COVID-19 response environment :

Be Direct – Give your people the facts. What does the current situation mean for your business and the work your people are doing? How can you do this with kindness and compassion?

Be Understandable – Create a clear context and give clear messaging. Break down messages for your workforce in terms of what your plans mean for them in their role. If you have people in your organisation with English as a second language, or with literacy challenges, make sure your communications are delivered in formats and language that can be understood by them. Consider all communication formats, don’t just rely on email. Try WhatsApp groups, or communicate through video messages for more personalised communication.

Be Reliable – Ensure people can count on you. Workforces are looking at their leaders for direction and reassurance. Do what you said you’d do, or be straight about why the situation has had to change.

Be Trustworthy – No leader, politician or health care professional has a crystal ball to see the future and what the impact of COVID-19 will be. As much as we all crave certainty, acknowledge that situations are changing daily and be straight and compassionate.

Also, leaders need to look out for their wellbeing and that of their people. This can be challenging when we are feeling the impacts of the COVID-19 response, not just at work, but at home and in the wider community. So, don’t forget to be kind to yourself, and others.

REFERENCES:

VUCA Times Call for DURT Leaders

https://www.thindifference.com/2014/05/vuca-times-call-durt-leaders/

Additional information for employers

Here’s some additional information from Safe Work Australia on when employers can direct employees to stay away from their usual workplace under workplace health and safety laws.

Safe Work Australia has information about when an employer can direct employees to stay away from their usual workplace under the model workplace health and safety laws.

More information:

Want to elevate your leadership capacity?

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Want this program customised for your workplace and industry?
Call 1300 453 555 or email info@safetydimensions.com.au

More from our blog

Why sleep is your superpower

Why sleep is your superpower

Are you and your workers skimping on sleep?

It’s been proven that sleep deprivation not only means poorer performance, productivity and safety outcomes, but has an impact on our physical health.

Researchers found workers losing just 16 minutes of sleep (from the 7-9 hours a night recommended) showed a difference between a clear-headed day at work or one filled with distractions.

At the point of sleep deprivation (less than 6.5 hours a night) the likelihood of a workplace accident increases by 70%.

In this deep dive TED Talk into the science of slumber, Matt Walker shares the good things that happen when you get good sleep — and the alarmingly bad things that happen when you don’t (with some surprising insights for men) on both your brain and body.

This includes sleep’s impact on your learning, memory, immune system and even your genetic code — as well as some helpful tips for getting some shut-eye.

 


Sources

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190423133605.htm
https://www.americansafetycouncil.com/content/osha-10-safety/


Need to get your people focused on all aspects of safety?

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Learn More About Our Foundational Safety Leadership Program

Focusing on shifting individual attitudes and mindsets regarding how safety is viewed in the workplace, this program also teaches new skills and knowledge to embed behaviour change at an individual and organisational level.

To find out how we can customise this program for your needs call us on 1300 453 555.

Want to transform your organisation's safety culture?

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We can train anywhere in Australia and our programs can be customised for your workplace and industry. Download our program guide.

Call 1300 453 555 or email info@safetydimensions.com.au

From our blog

WHS Learner Profile – Kevin Walker

WHS Learner Profile – Kevin Walker

Kevin Walker recently undertook the  BSB41415 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety, a nationally recognised qualification which trained him to identify hazards in the workplace, assist with responding to incidents, assess and control risk, and consult on work...

read more

Working well: An organisational approach to preventing psychological injury

Working well: An organisational approach to preventing psychological injury

Download Now:

Comcare Publication
Working Well:
An Organisational Approach To Preventing Psychological Injury

A GUIDE FOR CORPORATE, HR AND OHS MANAGERS

Source: Comcare.

Many employees will at times feel that they are not coping well at work for a variety of reasons.
Some of these employees will experience some degree of stress as a result. While many people have strategies to deal with these situations, work-related stress becomes a concern where it is intense or sustained for such a time that it causes ill-health, psychological injury and workers’ compensation claims. Where significant numbers of employees experience the effects of stress at work, the problem can assume organisational proportions. Stress that has such harmful effects is now being recognised as a major workplace issue with significant costs for organisations, individuals and their families.

The factors that contribute to a psychological injury are many, and different prevention strategies may be required, depending on the factors prevailing in the particular organisation, workplace or work team. This publication from Comcare provides information to assist Australian government organisations to design and implement strategies to manage work-related stress and prevent psychological injury.  It provides information on the major causes of stress and psychological injury. It also covers evidence-based interventions for minimising the adverse impact of these factors, as indicated by international and Australian research and analysis of Comcare claims data.

Comcare recommends that agencies adopt a systematic and structured approach to occupational health and safety (OHS) risk management.

A four step process to risk management is recommended, involving:

1.Identifying the sources of potential harm to employee health and wellbeing.

2. Systematically assessing the risk of employees being harmed.

3.Developing and implementing a plan to:
a) address the workplace factors that are risks of psychological injury (primary intervention);
b) minimise the impact of stress on employees (secondary intervention);
c) provide safe and effective rehabilitation and return to work for individuals once an injury has occurred (tertiary intervention); and

4. Monitoring and reviewing the implementation and effectiveness of interventions against agreed performance indicators and targets to ensure continuous improvement.

Source:  Comcare https://www.comcare.gov.au/

Download Now:

Comcare Publication
Working Well:
An Organisational Approach To Preventing Psychological Injury

A GUIDE FOR CORPORATE, HR AND OHS MANAGERS