Should grocery store employees wear N95 masks?

Grocery shopping is one of the most essential things that people do during this pandemic. If you want to do the groceries properly, you should come equipped with personal protective equipment. You probably wear your N95 respirator, your gloves, and maybe even your full body suit. It is now a must for every person to go out wearing a mask.

The next topic of conversation then would be if wearing  an N95 mask is still necessary if you are inside an establishment. The short answer is yes. It is still necessary to wear an N95 mask even if you are inside an establishment and not out in public. The long answer requires us to go back to the history of how the novel coronavirus spread in the first place.

The Restaurant Scenario

It is already known that most of the spike of cases of the coronavirus is when a family went to a restaurant in China. 

It was in January 2020, long before the spread of the virus and when everyone was required to wear an N95 respirator, when a family ate in a hotpot restaurant in Guangzhou, China. 

Eventually, one diner, who was then already infected with the novel coronavirus but not yet feeling sick or asymptomatic, spread disease to nine other people. Some are members of his family while others are from those who shared the same air conditioner unit with the family. Yes, it was the sharing of the same ventilator that caused the spike of the virus.

In the July issue of the Emerging Infectious Diseases which is a journal published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Chinese researchers described the incident and found out more about how the virus spreads through airborne transmission.

The Grocery Setting

Since everybody goes out wearing a mask, it is just necessary for everyone who works in retail to also wear an N95 respirator. 

According to the CDC, managing an employee’s health is important especially in places where there is an expectation of high foot traffic. Since it is necessary for every person to wear an N95 mask in order to protect themselves, grocery store employees and retail employees are more responsible for their own health as they face more individuals every single day.

What Can Grocery Store Establishments Do To Manage Their Employee’s Health?

Employers are required to make sure that they take care of their employees’ needs. All employees need to have N95 respirators and other personal protective equipment.

The CDC also requires employers to do the following;

  • Employers must instruct their employees to report all symptoms that they may experience with the virus. 
  • Every employer must coordinate with the local health department for additional guidance. 
  • Sick employees must no longer report to work.
  • Cleaning and sanitizing of surfaces are necessary in other areas of the grocery store as well as the work station of the employee.
  • Employees must inform their fellow employees if they have had contact with them and if they should be quarantined.

Beyond Minimum Health Standards

The better employer must not just do the minimum health standard but must also make sure that they do above and beyond. Health experts recommend that employers do the following:

  • Provide their employees with their own N95 respirators and other personal protective equipment;
  • Provide their employees with the proper orientation about the virus and how to deal with it;
  • Provide their employees with the right sanitation protocol that they would need whenever they may have had contact with the virus; and 
  • Provide the employee with the assurance that they will be protected and provided for in case they contract the virus. 

Your Share In The Fight

If you are not working in a grocery store but you are a frequent goer, you should take note of the following:

  • Wear your N95 mask at all times. As long as you go out and as long as you are in a place that is not your house, make sure that you have your N95 respirator at all times. This is your part in this fight.
  • You should never allow yourself to be too at ease with your surroundings that you forget that you may be surrounded by the virus. Make sure that you always sanitize and disinfect your hands. Stay away from surfaces or if you must hold them, wash your hands and use alcohol at all times. 
  • Never touch your N95 masks. Make sure that you are safe from the virus by not touching the mask. It may be contaminated with the virus. 
  • Always be nice to the grocery attendants. It is necessary for you to always have the decency of a human being. Every person you now meet must work in order to survive. If you will go out, you should make sure that you are nice to the people around you.

N95 Masks Are Always Good Protection

N95 masks will provide you with protection. Your family and friends will be safe from the virus if you are safe from the virus. If you work in a grocery store or if you frequent the grocery store, you will definitely need to have an N95 respirator at hand at all times. It is a good thing for you to always keep yourself protected. You may wash your N95 respirator using the approved methods so that should not be a problem.

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