Mask wear makes workplace safer for everyone

By John Meckling DLA Land and Maritime Reconstitution Coordinator

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Since the beginning of the pandemic, wearing masks or face coverings have been a hot topic of discussion. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, our guidance regarding mask wear while on the Defense Supply Center Columbus is clear.

Department of Defense Guidance on the Use of Cloth Face Coverings directs employees to wear face coverings when on military installations and 6 feet of social distancing cannot be maintained.  This guidance should be followed whether we are inside or outside.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration stated on their Frequently Asked Questions website in July that face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing measures. This means that social distancing is the most important tool we have to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine put Franklin County under a mandatory mask order July 8 that impacted local businesses. That order was expanded to statewide July 23 to include all 88 Ohio counties.

While DSCC is a federal installation, we generally follow local guidelines where safety is concerned. Wear a face covering when inside any building while you’re at DSCC, the mask should fit snugly covering the nose and mouth, be constructed of two-ply cloth material and not have exhalation vents.

Face coverings are mandatory while outside DSCC, when social distancing of 6 feet spacing cannot be maintained. Exceptions are permitted when eating or drinking, sitting at your desk or work area, or in a room where 6 feet of social distancing is maintained.

I have been asked “Why can’t I take it off when I’m walking down the hallway and no one is around?” If you’re walking around or sitting in a high traffic area, such as a break room, you can’t always guarantee maintaining social distancing because people may be coming around any corner. Your supervisors have implemented work controls to help guarantee social distancing to the maximum extent practicable when you’re sitting in your work area or a conference room.

Why wear a mask or face covering? Dedicated wear has been shown to reduce the spread of the virus, especially from people who are asymptomatic to people who are well. See the illustration below from the World Innovations Forum. Evidence suggests that if both parties are wearing a mask, and one of them an active spreader of COVID-19, the chances of the healthy person contracting the virus is significantly reduced.

Always wear your mask or face covering properly. That means wearing it snugly over your nose and mouth. Your chances of contracting or passing the virus to others goes up dramatically if you don’t wear your mask correctly,

While we are progressing through the Reconstitution, continue to be safe and be smart: Social Distance, Wear a Mask, and Wash Your Hands.