Health and safety

Masks 101: What You Should Know About Wearing Masks in the Workplace

August 19, 2020

We’ve all done it, gone to the store, taken off our masks and shoved them into our pocket or purse before heading home. Wearing a mask in public places and the workplace is new to many of us and it’s important to consider sanitary measures when putting on and removing masks to ensure they are effective.

With many workplaces now requiring employees to wear masks, employees might be asking, “What is the difference between the types of masks?” “Is there a certain way to put it on?” or “Do I have to clean it?” And if they aren’t asking these questions, they’re definitely thinking about them. We have answers and an infographic you can share with your team to help them safely and effectively use their masks.

Inforgraphic Icon


Get all the information in a printable 

infographic PDF at the end of this article.



How do you safely put a mask on?

You’ve probably worn a mask by now, maybe to the grocery store or maybe you need one where you work. But did you know there are a few steps to put it on safely?

  1. Wash your hands;
  2. Carefully inspect the mask for damage or dirt;
  3. Find the top edge and ensure the mask faces outward;
  4. Fully cover your mouth, nose, and chin with the mask;
  5. Put the straps over you ears (or in some cases, tie them securely behind your head); and
  6. Adjust so there are no gaps and ensure the fit feels good.

When you remove the mask, you should also follow similar steps:

  1. Wash your hands;
  2. Remove the straps from you ears or untie from behind your head;
  3. Keep the mask away from yourself and other surfaces (don’t set it down);
  4. Discard the mask if it’s disposable or wash in soap and hot water if it’s re-usable; and
  5. Immediately wash your hands or use an antibacterial sanitizer.

These best practice steps will help you as you do your part in helping to slow the spread of COVID-19.


Respirator, surgical, or cloth? What’s the difference?

Respirator masks 

Health and Safety - Respirator mask

This type of mask is used for workers in higher-risk environments like healthcare. They help keep out small respiratory droplets which could contain the virus. Most guidelines do not recommend these for the general public as they should be reserved for those with the most risk.

Surgical Masks

Health and Safety - Surgical mask

This type of mask is also commonly used in healthcare and reduces exposure to large respiratory droplets. These masks are meant for single use and do not completely protect against infection especially if the fit is loose.


Cloth Masks

Health and Safety - Cloth maskThis type if mask is the current recommendation for most people to wear in public buildings or other situations when social distancing is challenging. While it can’t filter the virus, it may help reduce transmission. It’s still important when wearing cloth masks to remain distant where possible. They also come in fun colours and patterns so you can add personal style while you wear them.


Of course, a mask alone is not enough. We must still try to maintain a safe distance and keep up proper handwashing to help prevent the spread.


!Illustration Bank - July_Health and Safety - 2 masks and a hand sanitizer bottle

Quick tips for wearing a mask

  • Inspect for rips and tears every time you put it on;
  • Ensure the mask fits properly, particularly around the nose and cheeks;
  • Wash and sanitize reusable masks after using them;
  • Don’t touch your face while wearing one;
  • Don’t remove the mask to talk to someone; if they can’t hear you, speak louder; and
  • Always cover your nose with your mask.

Inforgraphic Icon

For more tips and information on wearing a mask, download our FREE Masks 101 Infographic, which you can also print out and hang up in your workplace.


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