Masks at Monash Health

Information for employees about masks while at work.

Masks are mandatory in all areas of the health service. All patient-facing employees must wear an N95 and eye protection.

Refer to the Personal Protective Equipment Compulsory standards to determine the type of mask you should be wearing in different scenarios.

Why do I have to wear a mask?

Wearing a face mask helps keep you and others safe. Coronavirus (COVID-19) is spread from close contact with a person with the virus. Masks are helpful to stop droplets spreading when someone speaks, laughs, coughs, or sneezes, including someone who has coronavirus (COVID-19) and is contagious, but feels well.

Do I have to wear a mask if I have asthma?

People who have a medical condition, including problems with their breathing, do not have to wear masks.

If you are unable to wear a mask due to a medical condition you will need to provide evidence from your doctor to this effect. You will then need to work with your manager to determine the most appropriate action for you.

Do people with a disability have to wear a mask?

Yes, people with a disability must wear a mask unless it is impractical or unsafe to do so for medical, communication or other individual risk factors.

I have a medical problem and can’t wear a mask, what do I do?

If you are unable to wear a mask due to a medical condition you will need to provide evidence from your doctor to this effect. You will then need to work with your manager to determine the most appropriate action for you.

How do I raise the issue of mask-wearing with patients and visitors?

We have resources to help you. There are posters for download which advise that masks must be worn at Monash Health. They also advise that if people have a medical exemption for mask wearing, they need to carry it with them. There is also a flyer, which may help you with any conversation about why we are taking this action. Please download and use these resources as needed.

What if the mask hurts my ears?

Ear Saver Straps are available to prevent pressure or discomfort caused by wearing a mask.

Ear Saver Straps are available through iProc (code 402405) and located in clinical areas. Ask for a Nurse or Midwife in charge to provide this.

What is an Ear Saver Strap?

The Ear Saver Strap keeps your mask away from your ears and firm on your face. It also allows a better fit if the mask and strings are too wide for your face.

Attaching the straps/ties of your mask to the ear saver keeps your ears comfortable by keeping the mask straps resting on the back of your head instead of behind your ears.

Can I reuse my ear saver?

Yes, with the use of Clinell wipes on application and on removal, but only for a single shift/day.

How do I clean my ear saver?

Clinell wipes on each application and on removal. Please note that ear savers should only be used for single-day use.

Where do I store my ear saver?

Ear Saver Straps must be disposed of at the end of the shift/day as they are single-day use only.

Why can’t I reuse my mask?

Once worn, surgical masks are considered contaminated, and there is an increased risk of transmission if reused.

When you remove your mask, ensure you are not near other people, and follow this advice:

  • Perform hand hygiene
  • Don’t touch the front of the mask or your face.
  • Carefully remove your mask by grasping the ear loops or untying the ties. For masks with a pair of ties, unfasten the bottom one first, then the top one.
  • Fold the mask and put it directly into the laundry or into a disposable or washable bag for laundering. Single-use surgical masks should be disposed of responsibly.
  • Perform hand hygiene again

Only a short break should be required.

If I wear a surgical mask when I leave home, do I need to change to a surgical mask provided by Monash Health at work?

You must wear a Monash Health provided surgical mask while at work, this includes if you are walking past a clinical area or through a public area.

Do we need to wear them in the break rooms?

Yes, they must be worn unless you are eating, drinking or you are alone in the room with the door closed.

Where should we store our personal mask when at work?

In a zip-lock, plastic bag is the best option, kept in your bag or locker. ​Use separate bags for your clean and used masks.

What do I do with my used disposable mask?

When ready to change your disposable mask, place these into normal waste bins.

We recommend you carry a zip-lock plastic bag to secure your used disposable mask in case a bin is not immediately available.

Used disposable masks must not be dropped on the ground or left on any other surface as this poses an infection risk.

Will my mask fit properly if I have facial hair?

If you have facial hair, it will impact the effectiveness of your mask. For a quick overview of the facial hairstyles that will affect your mask’s seal, you can view this graphic from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. If you have facial hair, you will not be able to achieve an adequate seal when fit checking.

How do I stop mask fogging up my glasses?

Make sure the mask is fitted and pinched on your nose if possible. Put your glasses on after the face mask. Wash your glasses with detergent and water to create a film to prevent fogging. Or put a folded tissue across the bridge of your nose, then put your face mask on and your glasses on top.

Can I take my face mask off if someone I am communicating with can’t hear me?

You can remove your mask if you are communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.

You should maintain physical distancing of 1.5 metres and if you need to cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue or your elbow.

Can I take my face mask off when eating or drinking?

Yes. You can take your mask off when eating or drinking. You should maintain physical distancing of 1.5 metres and practise good hygiene. Replace your mask as soon as possible after eating and drinking.

Eating and drinking should not be used as an excuse not to wear a mask.

Our infection prevention settings have been updated. Protect yourself and our patients by reviewing now.View updated guidelines