Coughs and sneezes are the human body’s way of getting rid of irritants in the nose and lungs. A cough can travel as fast as 50 mph and throw off more than 3,000 droplets at once. If that’s not enough to convince you that you are carrying around a face cannon, consider this: sneezes are even more powerful, delivering more than 100,000 droplets at a rate of 100 mph, each of these loaded with saliva, mucus, and germs. When you consider all this, its little wonder health officials want everyone wearing a mask in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elected officials and public health experts have emphasized that social distancing is the best tool available to prevent transmission of the COVID virus. Unfortunately, when it comes to effectively managing such a mandate, it becomes a problem when you consider the nature of many businesses. In some cases, the best way to avoid outbreaks is with sneeze guards, especially when it comes to executive protection.
Side by Side?
When you consider certain common interactions, such as a teller and a bank customer, assembly line workers, employees sitting side by side in cubicles, and many more, it’s easy to understand how social distancing might not always be practical or even achievable. Instead, a shield of some sort is usually the best option.
Cough and sneeze guards were first installed in buffets and supper clubs in the 1950s to keep customers from contaminating food. Today, these guards are being installed in different settings—from banks to post offices—to help stem the tide of the highly contagious COVID-19 virus.
A Shield against COVID
A sneeze guard is not a medical device, but it does serve as a PPE method since it contributes to a slowdown of transmission. Even if two people are not wearing masks, a sneeze guard helps to deliver that extra amount of reassurance and safety. Installing a sneeze guard also serves to demonstrate a business’s dedication to the health and well-being of employees as well as its customers.
Sneeze guards also serve as a visual reminder to exercise proper caution as everyone cautiously reenters a supposed new normal in everyday life. Sneeze guards, just like disposable gloves and masks, are just another icon of the current pandemic.
Sneeze guards should not be considered a substitute for masks, gloves, and other personal protection methods. But, along with these methods and social distancing and the way specific actions are performed, sneeze guards should be considered one more layer of protection available to everyone.
To date, there are no government standards requiring sneeze guards to protect against COVID. Currently, only the FDA has requirements for the use of sneeze guards and food safety.
It could be argued that sneeze guards are something whose time has come as several major unions have called for instituting regulations to protect employees. These unions are currently aggressively lobbying OSHA to implement emergency workplace rules to protect workers who continue to work despite the COVID pandemic.