Operations Safety Bulletin
08-2020 COVID-19 - Information Concerning the Use of Non-Medical Masks at Work
Original: 2020-06-17 Revised: n/a Approved by Julie Gascon, Director General, Operations, on June 17, 2020.
This notice is to be posted in a place accessible to all employees for a period of 6 months.
On this page
- Target audience
- Types of masks
- Provision of Masks
- Guidance to seagoing and shore-based CCG personnel
- Requirements for non-CCG staff on CCG helicopters or vessels
- Children and people with medical conditions
- Connection to CCG policies and procedures
- Human resource considerations
All Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) employees are affected by this Safety Bulletin, including, but not limited to: office staff, shore-based personnel and seagoing personnel.
The purpose of this Operations safety bulletin is to provide information to employees regarding the use of non-medical masks while at work.
While scientists and public health experts have learned much about COVID-19, there are still unknowns, including spread from asymptomatic (not showing any symptoms) and pre-symptomatic individuals. As such, the CCG continues to base guidance on the following key principles:
- Asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals may play a significant role in the spread of COVID-19. Pre-screening measures may not capture these cases.
- Collective understanding of the symptoms of COVID-19 are constantly changing, as well as health complications from the virus. All age groups can suffer severe complications from the virus.
- COVID-19 can spread rapidly as it is a highly contagious virus.
The CCG plays an important role in delivering critical services and supporting the federal government, including in remote areas, such as the Arctic, where COVID-19 poses increased risks. CCG operations must be maintained throughout the pandemic. Therefore, it is prudent that CCG considers a broad range of protective measures to be implemented to ensure the safety of employees and the communities they support.
As all levels of government continue to define and update advice regarding the wearing of masks or face coverings, CCG will update guidance as required. The guidance below is consistent with advice provided in April 2020 by Transport Canada (TC) and Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) guidance recommending non-medical mask use when physical distancing is not possible (May 2020).
Types of masks
Masks should fit snugly against the side of your face and must cover your mouth and nose. It should be easy to put on and take off when necessary (for example, identity verification check). The purpose of the mask is to contain and prevent the spread of COVID-19 where an employee’s own respiratory droplets (germs) would otherwise reach other people, as opposed to directly protecting the employee from COVID-19Footnote 1.
Examples of non-medical masks include:
- paper masks not rated for procedures
- cloth or neoprene masks with ear loops
- multi-purpose fabric tubes (Buffs style), with sufficient layers of fabric
Masks can be disposable or re-usable. CCG will consider both options, depending on operational needs and available supplies.
N95 masks are not to be used as part of this guidance as they require individual fit testing and are for those at risk of being exposed to aerosolized transmission of droplets during medical procedures.
Provision of Masks
The CCG has received an initial order of disposable masks and has initiated a procurement process to acquire re-usable non-medical masks for its employees. If employees have masks that meet PHAC guidelines for non-medical face coverings, their use is permitted in the workplace while the procurement process is underway.
Guidance to seagoing and shore-based CCG personnel
Wearing a mask does not replace or lessen the need to continue with other public health measures to help reduce transmission, such as maintaining physical distancing where possible, and rigorous hand hygiene practices. Masks are NOT required when physical distancing can be consistently maintained.
The purpose of this document is to establish baseline national guidance regarding the use of masks when physical distancing is NOT possible. The protocol of donning a mask involves the following situations:
- Employees are required to don a mask before interaction with the public while at work, during crew changes, in vehicles with other CCG employees, and during both commercial and helicopter flights.
- Use of masks is encouraged in other environments, including offices where physical distancing can not be consistently maintained.
- Use of masks is "encouraged" for vessel crews, based on assessed risk.
As per Transport Canada regulations, all persons travelling by air are required to wear a face covering during travel. CCG will provide masks. However, if masks can not be provided in advance crew can purchase their own. Without a mask, they will be denied boarding.
The basic procedure to put on and take off a mask includes the following:
- Wash hands or use hand sanitizer.
- Put on a mask and ensure it covers mouth and nose.
- As much as possible, avoid touching the mask while it is on the face. If it needs to be adjusted, ideally hands should be washed or a hand sanitizer used before and after.
- When removing, wash hands or use hand sanitizer first.
- For disposable masks, remove by straps and discard in a waste basket. Reusable masks should be stored in a sealable bag for laundering prior to reuse.
Paper masks cannot be reused or shared.
Masks should be changed at least every 4 hours or if they get soiled moist from breathing. If reusable masks are used, follow the same change out procedure and wash the masks prior to reuse. Reusable masks can be laundered with other items using a warm cycle, and then dried thoroughly.
CCG personnel will be provided masks, where required for the workplace. CCG will provide masks to non-CCG personnel entering CCG facilities, for situations when physical distancing is not possible.
For vessels that have not had crew change out, supernumeraries onboard or illness onboard for 14 days, the crew will no longer need to wear masks.
Requirements for non-CCG staff on CCG helicopters or vessels
In the conduct of operational program service delivery, supernumeraries, passengers or contractors may be embarked in our vessels and helicopters. They must be provided with and are required to wear a mask if they have not followed the same self-isolation procedure as the crew.
Children and people with medical conditions
Toddlers and infants (those under 2) should not be provided a mask. Also, some people with certain medical conditions may not be able to wear a mask.
Connection to CCG policies and procedures
The above noted guidelines are in support of and do not supersede any national standard operating procedures for COVID-19.
The use of masks, as outlined in this guidance document, is to be followed until otherwise communicated.
Human resource considerations
The requirements noted in this operational procedure are consistent with the conditions of employment for CCG personnel. Should an employee have any concerns regarding the wearing of masks, they should speak with their immediate supervisor.
Enquiries regarding this Operations Safety Bulletin should be directed to:
- Emergency Manager, National Emergency Coordination Centre (NECC)
CCG HQ NECC DOC / DOC CNCU QG GCC (DFO/MPO)
- Date modified: