COVID-19 has a transmission rate of 0.89%. That might seem like a tiny number, but it translates into 64 infections for every 7, 000 contacts. The average urban environment exposes you to 25 people per square kilometer, but the number can rise to 8, 000 in dense cities. The length of time passing between contacts has a dramatic impact on transmission rates, so the way you control your work environment can reduce infections more effectively than you might think. PPE has an important role to play in this area. Social distancing isn't always possible, so protective equipment and safety glasses are the core of any workplace COVID strategy.
Time and Transmission Rates
The CDC has created a new guideline to define close contact by the length of exposure, so social distancing needs to include the cumulative total your workers rack up each day. If you're within six feet of a COVID-positive person for 15 minutes of the day, your odds of picking up the virus soar. The 15-minute rule means that even multiple short interactions matter. Your workers should be a minimum of one meter from their colleagues at all times, even if they're not showing symptoms.
Design airflow and six-foot distances between staff throughout your office, including during meetings and lunch breaks. Physical separations will encourage compliance, so the CDC recommends tape markers, signs, and removed chairs. New diagramming tools can help you to create a safer office layout by mapping out your meetings and workstations, but this isn't enough. Your office flow must also be strategically managed to control the way your staff move through your building. If your office isn't large enough for six-foot separations, you can stagger workdays to keep your office at 50% capacity and include a tougher PPE program.
Avoiding Airborne Contagions
COVID-19 doesn't require direct contact to spread. It's transmitted via droplets, fomites, blood, and even animal-to-human contact. It's been found in tears and eye swabs, too, so hand-to-eye contact can quickly become life-threatening. Atomized spray can transmit the virus via eye exposure, so basic respiratory masks are no longer enough. A recent Lancet study found that infections diminished to zero when face shields were introduced in healthcare workers.
Another study found that those who wore eyeglasses for eight or more hours a day experienced a transmission rate over 20% lower than those who didn't. The Lancet recommends eye-protective face shields to cover the entire ocular surface area. Even an anti-tear film can reduce COVID transmission, but safety glasses remain the best eye barrier on the market today. However, the CDC has been quick to warn that eye protection is no replacement for a mask. It's to be used as an extra layer of protection, and not the only layer of protection.
Choosing the Right Glasses
Coronavirus is becoming more airborne with every new strain, so the safest goggles seal the eyes using a non-porous barrier. Goggles offer the highest level of protection. Safety glasses follow swiftly behind, and shields are the next best option. Because they leave large gaps at the bottom and sides of the face, they're less than ideal, though. They allow small droplets to escape, so they can do little to prevent employee-to-employee transmission.
Dealing with Compliance
Discomfort is the fastest way to reduce PPE compliance, so the weight, prescription lenses, and fit of your safety glasses matter. You can boost compliance in several ways:
Even the best safety glasses can achieve little if used incorrectly, so it's important to teach your employees how to remove residue from the outside of their glasses. EPA-registered disinfectant and clean paper towels should be stored at convenient places throughout the workplace.
Bridge Vision and Your COVID Policy
The learning curve between ordinary PPE and COVID-19-resistant goggles is a steep one, particularly if you've never used safety glasses in your workplace before. Bridge Safety Vision reduces the curve by giving you a five-minute doorway to your PPE program. All it takes is the filling out of a simple form detailing the kinds of PPE you require and your spending limits. From there, we'll send your workers a digital payment card to take to their closest Walmart Vision Center. Our partner vision center will handle your eye exams and lens options so that you don't need to handle payroll deductions, forms, or paperwork.
A robust PPE strategy can greatly reduce surface and airborne COVID-19 transmission. Temperature checking stations, frequent testing, masks, and a well-ventilated workspace remain the core of any safety program, but PPE will take it to new heights of efficacy.