Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Update – June 29, 2022 

Effective July 25, we will suspend mandatory masking for staff, donors, and visitors in our buildings, vehicles and collections events. Employees will be able to work without a mask, if they choose to. This applies whether you work in a donor centre, production centre, or an administrative office. This change also applies to our mobile events, trucks and buses.  

All of our sites will be mask friendly. We have always believed that masks are an important tool in preventing the spread of viruses and we strongly encourage anyone to continue wearing a mask if they choose.  Please respect people’s choice to continue wearing a mask.  

Although you may see an immediate change in mask wearing on July 25, a change such as this requires a lot of work behind the scenes. We appreciate your patience as we make these adjustments to implement this change.  

Changes to routines, especially after the last two years, can feel uncomfortable. Employees who have concerns related to workplace safety matters should discuss them with their supervisors or PCP business partner. The OHS & EHS teams (ask.ohs@blood.ca) are available to respond to any safety concerns.  

New FAQs related to this coming change have been added below under “Questions and Answers”. If you have questions that are not covered here, please reach out to communications@blood.ca.  

 

Below is an overview of the PPE measures in place at Canadian Blood Services. For more information on these measures please visit the Q&A below:

  • In operational environments, including production/processing testing, distribution and logistics, surgical masks provided by Canadian Blood Services are MANDATORY. As an exception, N95 masks and three-layered cloth masks are available for employees and contractors who prefer these options.
  • In collections environments, including permanent and mobile donor centres, surgical masks provided by Canadian Blood Services are MANDATORY for donor, employees, contractors and volunteers.
    • Exceptions for donors:
      • If a donor says they cannot wear a surgical mask, they can either:
      • Wear a CBS- supplied surgical mask over their own or;
      • Wear a CBS-supplied cloth mask.
      • Wear a CBS-supplied N95 mask (if supply allows) 
      • Wear their own N95 mask or N95-like respirator
      • If they refuse, they will not be allowed to donate
    • Exceptions for employees, contractors and volunteers: 
      • Employees, contractors and volunteers have the option to wear a CBS-supplied N95 mask, or their own N95 mask. 
      • If they cannot tolerate a surgical mask directly on their skin, they can wear a CBS- supplied surgical mask over a cloth mask.
    • A small number of cloth masks aligned with the Public Health Agency of Canada guidance  are available for employees, contractors and volunteers who have indicated they cannot wear a surgical mask.
  • In administrative environments, such as office buildings and common areas, Canadian Blood Services supplied surgical masks are MANDATORY. By exception only, Canadian Blood Services supplied N-95 or three-layered cloth masks are available for employees and contractors who prefer these options. Employees may wear their own N95 mask. See Q&A below for further details on our protocols for eating on site and working at individual workstation exception requirements

Questions and answers (Mask removal, effective July 25, 2022)

When can we stop wearing masks?

We’ve determined it’s the right time for additional adjustments to some of the remaining COVID-19 protocols. Effective July 25, we will suspend mandatory masking for staff, donors, and visitors in our buildings, vehicles and collections events.     

Beginning July 25, you will be able to work without a mask, if you choose to. This applies whether you work in a donor centre, production centre, or an administrative office. This change also applies to our mobile events, trucks and buses.     

Our suspension of this measures aligns with epidemiological advice: that we are at a stage in this pandemic where we can shift from mandatory to optional measures. This can happen because the majority of Canadians are fully vaccinated and illness now caused by COVID-19 is far less severe in most cases.  

Why are we removing these measures now?

The organization’s journey since the beginning of this pandemic has been cautious and measured. All decisions have been made in consultation with our medical and epidemiology experts and at minimum, meeting applicable public health requirements.   

In recent months, we have seen restrictions being eased in many community venues and workplaces across the country. Similarly, over the last few months Canadian Blood Services has rolled back some of our own COVID-19 measures. Wellness checkpoints at our entrances have been removed, in-person recruitment has resumed, media has been allowed back into collection events, we’ve brought snacks and hydration back inside our sites, we’ve determined pandemic leaves are no longer required and we have also reduced our enhanced cleaning measures.   

We’ve determined it’s the right time for additional adjustments to some of the remaining COVID-19 protocols. Our suspension of these measures aligns with epidemiological advice: that we are at a stage in this pandemic where we can shift from mandatory to optional measures. This can happen because the majority of Canadians are fully vaccinated and illness now caused by COVID-19 is far less severe in most cases.  

We have been committed to monitoring and assessing our COVID-19 measures and we have been responsive to changing scientific knowledge and epidemiological conditions. We will continue to closely monitor the epidemiology and scientific knowledge so that we remain agile to reintroduce mandatory masks and physical distancing if necessary.  

Will we still make masks available to employees, donors, volunteers and visitors?

Yes. Masks, including N95s, will still be available to staff, volunteers, visitors and donors. 

Does this mean we are going back to normal, and our sites will operate like it did before the pandemic? 

Although we are scaling back on some of our COVID-19 preventative measures, our sites will continue to transition to full occupancy in a managed way. We are committed to both safety and agility for this transition. Masks and physical distancing are still encouraged and welcome. Frequent cleaning will continue on surfaces that come in contact with donors. We ask employees to make sensible choices when booking gatherings and meetings.  Although physical distancing requirements are being removed, we will assess the steps to open up all spaces up to 100% capacity. A change such as this requires a lot of work behind the scenes. We appreciate your patience as we make these adjustments.  

I thought we considered ourselves a healthcare setting? 

Canadian Blood Services is a unique organization. Although we provide life-saving products to patients, we are not a hospital or healthcare setting. We consider ourselves a community setting and determined we are at a stage in this pandemic where we can shift from mandatory to optional measures. 

What if we experience another wave in the pandemic? 

We have been committed to monitoring and assessing our COVID-19 measures and we have been responsive to changing epidemiological conditions and scientific knowledge. We will continue to closely monitor the epidemiology and scientific knowledge so that we remain agile to reintroduce mandatory masks and physical distancing if necessary. 

I have a health condition and will need to continue wearing a mask to protect myself. I would feel safer if everyone else around me would to. 

Employees who have concerns related to workplace safety matters should discuss them with their supervisors or PCP business partner. The OHS & EHS teams (ask.ohs@blood.ca) are available to respond to any safety concerns. Any concerns related to accommodation needs related to medical considerations can be discussed with EHS Coordinators. Your well-being is a priority, and we are here to support you through this transition.  Everyone is welcome to and encouraged to continue wearing a mask and to physical distance where feasible in our sites.   

I don’t feel comfortable working so close to donors who choose not to wear a mask. 

We understand that after two years of mask-wearing, you may feel uneasy being around others who are not wearing masks. Employees are encouraged to wear masks when they are close to other people. Being a fully vaccinated workplace, and knowing that the majority of donors are also vaccinated supports epidemiological advice that we are at a stage in this pandemic where we can pull back on these requirements.  

Employees who have concerns related to workplace safety matters should discuss them with their supervisors or PCP business partner. The OHS & EHS teams (ask.ohs@blood.ca) are available to respond to any safety concerns. Your well-being is a priority, and we are here to support you through this transition. Canadian Blood Service has a number of programs available to help employees, including free access to licensed mental health professionals, mindfulness tools and monthly wellness workshops.    

For more information on these programs and how we are supporting employee wellbeing, visit  https://connect.blood.ca/about-you/your-well-being. 

We are removing these measures, right before our pandemic leave supports expire. What if I get sick with COVID-19 and need to access paid leaves?

With the pandemic landscape changing, we recently reviewed the various COVID-19 paid leaves and determined these leaves are no longer necessary and can be removed. COVID-19 paid leaves may be re-instated in future depending upon circumstances.    

People, Culture and Performance (PCP) and Employee Health Services (EHS) have been monitoring the utilization rates of the COVID-19 leaves. Over several months, the rate of usage has declined steadily. This could be attributed to a decline in COVID-19 illness and severity of symptoms, shorter periods of quarantine requirements and being a fully vaccinated workplace.      

Various paid leaves still exist to support employees for a variety of scenarios, including sick leave, appointment leave, family leave and more. Please refer to your applicable collective agreement or non-union terms and conditions of employment. For more information on your situation and whether you are eligible for other paid sick leave, please reach out to your PCP Business Partner.  

What if we start seeing an increase in positive COVID-19 cases among employees and absenteeism? 

Our suspension of these measures aligns with epidemiological advice: that we are at a stage in this pandemic where we can shift from mandatory to optional measures. This can happen because the majority of Canadians are fully vaccinated and illness now caused by COVID-19 is far less severe in most cases.  

When the large spikes in positive cases resulted in employee absenteeism during the Omicron wave, we were agile and adjusted. If we see an increase in absenteeism after removing our mask and physical distancing requirements, we will be prepared to respond. We do not anticipate a significant increase in staff absenteeism at this stage of the pandemic.  

Various paid leaves still exist to support employees for a variety of scenarios, including sick leave, appointment leave, family leave and more. Please refer to your applicable collective agreement or non-union terms and conditions of employment. For more information on your situation and whether you are eligible for other paid sick leave, please reach out to your PCP Business Partner.  

We no longer actively screen donors upon entry and now we are removing measures that are supposed to prevent transmission in our sites. Aren’t you worried about risks? 

Our suspension of these measures aligns with epidemiological advice: that we are at a stage in this pandemic where we can shift from mandatory to optional measures. This can happen because the majority of Canadians are fully vaccinated and illness now caused by COVID-19 is far less severe in most cases. The organization’s journey since the beginning of this pandemic has been cautious and measured. All decisions have been made in consultation with our medical and epidemiology experts. The decision to remove masks was not taken lightly and all risks, opportunities and challenges were considered and analyzed.   

We have been committed to monitoring and assessing our COVID-19 measures and we have been responsive to changing epidemiological conditions and scientific knowledge. We will continue to closely monitor the epidemiology and scientific knowledge so that we will remain agile to reintroduce mandatory masks and physical distancing if necessary.  

I’m not required to wear a mask to do my job, but my role takes me into other external sites. 

If your work takes you into a setting that requires masking (for example, a hospital) we ask that you respectfully comply with that site’s requirements.  

If employees, volunteers, contractors and donors decide they want to wear a mask, do they still have to wear one of ours? 

No, if anyone chooses to wear a mask, they are free to wear their own. However, we will have surgical masks available and would encourage people to take ours if they’d like.  

Will the wellness poster checkpoint and handing out of the masks be self-serve since they are optional?

There are a number of details, including these, that we are still working through. A change such as this requires a lot of work behind the scenes. Although you may see an immediate change to some things as of July 25, it will take time for the organization to adjust other aspects of our operations. We appreciate your patience as we make these adjustments to implement this change. We will continue to provide updates as they become available. 

Who can I talk to if I have concerns?

Changes to routines, especially after the last two years, can feel uncomfortable. Employees who have concerns related to workplace safety matters should discuss them with their supervisors or PCP business partner. The OHS & EHS teams (ask.ohs@blood.ca) are available to respond to any safety concerns and you can email any questions or concerns to communications@blood.ca. Your well-being is a priority, and we are here to support you through this transition. Canadian Blood Service has a number of programs available to help employees, including free access to licensed mental health professionals, mindfulness tools and monthly wellness workshops.   

For more information on these programs and how we are supporting employee wellbeing, visit  https://connect.blood.ca/about-you/your-well-being.

Questions and answers

Are there exceptions for donors, employees, contractors or volunteers who can’t wear a surgical mask?

  • Exceptions for donors: 
    • If a donor says they cannot wear a surgical mask, they can either: 
      • Wear a CBS- supplied surgical mask over their own or; 
      • Wear a CBS-supplied cloth mask. 
      • CBS-supplied N95 masks are available upon request (if supply allows) 
      • Wearing their own N95 mask or N95-like respirator
      • If they refuse to wear a mask, they will not be allowed to donate 
  • Exceptions for employees, contractors and volunteers: 
    • Employees, contractors and volunteers have the option to wear a CBS-supplied N95 mask, or wear their own N95 mask.
    • If they cannot tolerate a surgical mask directly on their skin, they can wear a CBS- supplied surgical mask over a cloth mask. 
    • A small number of cloth masks aligned with Public Health Agency of Canada guidance have been procured for employees, contractors and volunteers who have indicated that they cannot wear a surgical mask. 

What are the benefits of wearing a surgical mask?

Surgical masks have greater ability to filter or trap infectious particles compared to fabric masks and can prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Canadian Blood Services' supplied surgical masks are certified to at least an ASTM Level 1, meaning they are tested to meet certain requirements for filtration efficiency (minimum 95% filtration) and breathability. Cloth face coverings do not have standard certification levels that can be verified (filtration can be anywhere from 30—80%)

The risk of transmission of COVID-19 is likely lower if all individuals are wearing surgical masks, compared to fabric masks.

Does Canadian Blood Services recommend that employees wear double masks to limit the spread of COVID-19?

Canadian Blood Services does not recommend or require employees, volunteers, contractors or donors to wear double masks in our environments.  

Canadian Blood Services supplied surgical masks are mandatory for all donors, employees, contractors and volunteers. When worn properly they provide effective protection against COVID-19. Our surgical masks are certified to at least ASTM Level 1, meaning they are tested to meet certain requirements for filtration efficiency (minimum 95 per cent filtration) and breathability.

To protect yourself and others, it is important to ensure that your surgical mask is well-fitting. It should be large enough to completely and comfortably cover your nose, mouth and chin without gaping.

Although double masking is not required in our environments, we’ve updated our mask policy to provide guidance if an employee or volunteer chooses to double mask:

  • If you choose to wear two masks, you should wear a Canadian Blood Services surgical mask closest to your skin and a cloth mask as the outer layer.
  • You should not wear two surgical masks since the evidence of improved mask performance is based only on using a surgical and cloth mask together.
  • If you find that the double masking interferes with comfortable breathing, you should return to wearing a single Canadian Blood Services provided surgical mask.
  • If you are unable to tolerate a surgical mask directly against your skin, you continue to have the option to wear the Canadian Blood Services supplied surgical mask over a cloth mask.
  • Employees who are unable to tolerate a Canadian Blood Services supplied surgical mask should speak with their manager to receive further guidance.

Note: This is guidance only and does not replace our mandatory masking policies for donors, volunteers, contractors and employees

Why was the decision made to require CBS-supplied masks in our sites?

Ultimately, this is to protect the safety of donors, employees and our operations.

Our supply of surgical masks meets a minimum standard to ensure they contain droplets and protect against the droplets of others. Our masks provide a minimum level of protection (95 % filtration).

If everyone is wearing the same mask type (and one that is not damaged or dirty) it is easier for public health to complete investigations if there is a positive case.

We are unable to inspect masks not supplied by Canadian Blood Services to ensure they meet the same standards.

We have three-layer cloth masks that meet PHAC guidelines for those donors who can't wear a surgical mask.

How can I make wearing a surgical mask more comfortable?

If an employee is experiencing discomfort by securing the mask behind their ears, we recommend using ear savers supplied by Canadian Blood Services. You can also purchase these on your own and speak to your manager about the options for reimbursement.

Employees are also permitted to wear a mask bracket if they choose. There is no research to suggest they are unsafe when used properly and as long as they don’t interfere with the fit of the mask. Employees using mask brackets should make sure that the bracket does not allow any gaps between the mask and their face as this would decrease the efficacy of the face mask.

When is it acceptable for employees not to wear a mask in Canadian Blood Services sites?

There are two scenarios where it is acceptable for an employee to remove their mask while working at our sites (administrative and operations):

  • An employee may remove their mask if they are at an individual workstation provided this space is their own to use and is not shared by anyone else.
    • Cubicles with wall heights on all three sides that are at or above 55” are sufficient as seated barriers to remove your mask when you are working alone at your personally assigned cubicle.
    • Cubicles with wall heights on all three sides that are at or above 70” are sufficient to remove your mask when you are alone in your personally assigned cubicle at a standing height (i.e using a sit stand).
    • Masks must be put back on whenever another person comes to your cubicle and when individuals move about spaces.
  • An employee may remove their mask to eat. Our employees are required to maintain a two-metre distance from others when eating. We have spaced out tables and seating at our sites to accommodate our teams. Additional cleaning protocols have also been implemented.

Why do masks need to be worn in common areas where there is plenty of room for physical distancing?

Common areas include meeting rooms, cafeterias (when not eating), bathrooms and other similar spaces.

Without a mask, individuals may generate droplets which can remain airborne or land on surfaces. And, without cleaning practices in place to disinfect common areas each time an individual passes through, not wearing a mask may put our teams and operations at risk.

This decision reduces the possibility of contamination, is aligned with the latest advice from public health and allows us to better manage cases of individuals who test positive for COVID-19 who have been in our sites.

Employees who cannot wear the masks provided (for health reasons or otherwise) should speak to their supervisor to see if Canadian Blood Services can provide them with an alternative masking option.

We are continuously reviewing the latest information, scientific data and risks to guide our decisions. We will continue to keep employees informed of any new information and how it affects this requirement as it becomes available.

I cannot wear masks due to health reasons. What should I do?

Employees are asked to discuss this with their supervisor to understand the limitation and how it may be accommodated.

Can I reuse a surgical mask?

A surgical mask must be changed at any point if the employee feels they have become contaminated, soiled or damaged. Please refer to the masking guide available through your supervisor for further instructions.

I find masks uncomfortable, can I wear a face shield instead?

A mask can be worn on its own or with the addition of a face shield. However, a face shield cannot be worn on its own because it does not offer the same level of protection and must be worn with a mask.

What are we doing to mitigate the environmental impact of mandatory surgical masks?

Surgical masks are required for employees and donors in our operational environments to best protect against the spread of COVID-19. While the use of these disposable masks is necessary for our safety, we know that this decision may have negative effects on the environment. To minimize the impact of disposable masks, we have rolled out a surgical mask recycling program at all Canadian Blood Services sites. Terracycle Zero Waste Boxes are in our facilities across the country. Employees are encouraged to place their used surgical masks in the boxes for recycling. How is this helping exactly? Terracycle will take the used masks from over 50 locations and make them into new products like shipping pallets or plastic lumber. Employees are reminded to detach the straps from their surgical masks to reduce the impact of wildlife entrapment. Help us minimize our environmental footprint while keeping our teams and donors safe. If you have questions about the new recycling program contact carlene.vanderheiden@blood.ca.

Does Canadian Blood Services use surgical masks containing graphene or biomass graphene?

Canadian Blood Services’ surgical masks do not contain graphene or biomass graphene.  

The safety of our employees, volunteers and donors is our top priority. Before providing surgical masks to our teams, our vendors must demonstrate their supply of masks are acceptable by Health Canada.  

Our vendors are licensed by Health Canada and have confirmed with us that they do not use graphene or biomass graphene in their manufacturing process.

Are face shields/eye protection mandatory for employees onsite?

Although the use of face shields/eye protection is not mandatory, we strongly encourage our frontline operational teams to wear a face shield/eye protection when physical distancing cannot be maintained, in addition to their required surgical mask when working onsite. 

Research has shown a number of benefits to wearing a face shield/eye protection in addition to a properly fitting surgical mask: 

It can significantly limit your short-term exposure to infectious droplets, reducing contamination of your respiratory system. 

It provides an additional layer of protection around your face/eyes, reducing the potential for splashes, sprays and droplets from sneezing and coughing. 

It makes it harder for you to accidentally touch your mask or your eyes, therefore reducing the potential for transmission.  

If you choose to wear a face shield/eye protection provided by Canadian Blood Services in addition to your mask, here is what you need to know: 

  • Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to safely put on and remove your face shield. 
  • You must clean your face shield/eye protection at the beginning and end of your shift with soap and water, isopropyl alcohol or disinfectant wipes. Face shields/eye protection do not need to be changed or cleaned after every close interaction with another person. 
  • Your provided face shield/eye protection is reusable — but ONLY by you. It should not be shared with others. If possible, label your eye protection so it isn’t accidentally misplaced or used by someone else. 
  • If your face shield/eye protection becomes damaged, please ask your manager/supervisor for a replacement. 
  • Your face shield/eye protection should be left at your place of work when you have completed your shift. If you need to take it home or for transportation to a mobile donor event, you must thoroughly clean your face shield/eye protection prior to leaving the donor centre. 

Remember, the additional protection of wearing a face shield/eye protection with a mask is not a replacement for following all other safety measures in place such as physical distancing and proper hand hygiene. Employees should continue to maintain a two-metre distance from others where possible. 

If a donor inquires, due to the shortage of supply we regret we cannot provide face shields/eye protection to individuals who are not employed or volunteering with Canadian Blood Services.

Are there any exceptions for drivers who need to remove their mask for safety reasons?

We require employees who operate our vehicles to wear a mask provided by Canadian Blood Services.

If a driver is experiencing issues with his/her glasses fogging, they may remove their mask while they are driving for safety. Otherwise, a mask should be worn at all times. Drivers and passengers should maintain two-metre physical distancing as per our safety protocols.

Here are some tips to keep glasses from fogging up when wearing a mask:

  • Ensure the right fit for the mask (fits securely over nose to stop warm air from coming up).
  • Wash glasses with dish soap and water, as the soap leaves behind a thin film that acts as a fog barrier.

What if a donor doesn’t want to wear a mask/switch to a CBS-mandated mask?

Anyone entering our sites will be expected to switch to a surgical mask. If a donor indicates that they cannot wear a surgical mask, they have the option of wearing a Canadian Blood Services-supplied surgical mask over their own cloth or surgical mask or wearing a Canadian Blood Services-supplied three-layer cloth mask. If a donor would like a CBS-supplied N95 mask, they will be permitted to have one, if supply allows. If a donor arrives wearing their own N95 mask or N95-like respirator, they will not be expected to switch it out for a CBS-supplied mask, if they prefer to keep their own mask on. Unfortunately, anyone who refuses these options will not be allowed our centres.   

What if a donor says they can’t wear a mask at all?

Unfortunately, at this time we are only able to allow donors to enter Canadian Blood Services sites if they follow our mask policy. This includes wearing a Canadian Blood Services supplied mask or a donor may wear their own N95 or N95-like respirator This decision was made to protect the safety of our teams, our donors and our essential operations.   

We understand that some individuals may not be able to donate due to the mask requirement, and we hope that when the pandemic no longer threatens public safety, we will be able to welcome those individuals back to our collection events.

What do we say to donors who are upset when they see other donors wearing a cloth or N95 mask?

We understand that some people can’t wear surgical masks (ex: medical or sensitivities). We encourage these people to wear a surgical mask over their own cloth mask. If they can’t do that, we provide them with a Canadian Blood Services-supplied cloth mask. Our three-layer masks meet the current PHAC cloth mask requirements.  

Should a donor come in with their own N95 or N95-like respirator, they have the option to replace it with one of our masks, or continue to wear their own. If a donor specifically asks for a N95 mask, we may provide them one if supplies allow.  

How can we tell if a donor is wearing a N95 or N95-like respirator?

It can be difficult to visually confirm a N95-like respirator with 100% certainty. Here are some indicators that a mask may not be an acceptable N95 or similar respirator:  

  • The mask does not cover the nose and mouth;  
  • The mask does not bear any markings or lettering;  
  • The mask contains decorative or artistic markings;  
  • The mask contains an exhalation valve (usually resembles a plastic fixture on the surface of the respirator)  

If there is doubt about a donor’s mask, then ask the donor about the mask they are wearing. If the donor is unable or unwilling to state that their mask is a N95 or N95-like, then ask the donor to wear a CBS-provided mask, either instead of their own mask, or over top of their own mask.  

How do we respond to a donor who thinks their mask is better than ours?

Wearing a mask is mandatory in our collections sites. When a donor arrives wearing their own mask, they have the option of switching for one of our surgical masks, or wearing one of our surgical masks over their own. The only exception is for donors who bring their own N95 or N95-like respirator. They are permitted to continue wearing their own if they choose and are not required to wear our surgical mask on top. 

We are unable to inspect masks not supplied by Canadian Blood Services to ensure they meet the same standards. Surgical masks improve safety by reducing transmission. Our surgical masks have a minimum 95 per cent filtration (versus typical two/single ply cloth masks, which have 30-80 per cent filtration). During the collection process it is not always possible to maintain the required two metre physical distancing between donors and employees. In these circumstances, wearing surgical masks helps minimize the likelihood of transmission. 

If everyone is wearing a mask at collection events, it makes it easier for public health to complete investigations and may mean fewer people are asked to isolate if there is a positive case — reducing impact on our operations.  

Why aren’t we fit testing the N95 masks?

Our priority at this time is to source, secure and make available an adequate supply of N95 respirator masks as quickly as possible. The goal is to get these masks to the employees and volunteers who are asking for them, as efficiently as we can. The process of fit testing would expend our limited resources and also significantly delay our ability to make N95s available to our employees and volunteers. In line with public health guidance and other sectors, fit testing will not be part of our implementation process at this time. Employees can feel assured that although their N95 is not  fit-tested, they are still generally more effective than surgical masks. We will continue to assess public health guidance on the use of N95 masks in different settings as PPE requirements continue to evolve. We have also provided comprehensive guidance on how to use them properly on our PPE page. 

What is the brand of N95 masks? 

Our primary N95 masks are the 3M 8210. We have identified different 3M model as well as models from Honeywell and Benehal for individuals for whom the primary option may not fit well. A limited number of these alternative models have been ordered and are in the process of being delivered.

Will it be mandatory to wear N95 masks?

N95 masks are available for optional use. Employees and volunteers who choose not to wear N95 masks will still be required to wear masks (e.g. Canadian Blood Services supplied surgical masks or cloth masks) in accordance with our mandatory mask policy.

Can I wear my own N95 mask? 

We understand that employees and volunteers may have a preference to bring their own N95 mask. Employees and volunteers will be supported should they wish to bring their own from home.

Please be aware that, throughout the pandemic, concerns have been raised about counterfeit N95 products. If you do wish to bring your own N95 from home, be aware of the following tips that a respirator may be counterfeit:

  • No markings at all on the filtering facepiece respirator
  • Missing or incorrectly spelled certification markings
  • Presence of decorative fabric or other decorative add-ons (e.g., sequins)

Please note that Canadian Blood Services will not reimburse employees or volunteers for N95 masks that may be brought from home for use in our workplaces.

What about donors, will they be asked to wear our N95 masks?

Donors will not be asked to wear N95 masks. However, they will still be required to wear masks (Canadian Blood Services supplied surgical and/or cloth masks) in accordance with our current mandatory mask policy.  If a donor asks to be provided with a N95, we may provide one, if supply allows. Should a donor come in with their own N95 mask, they have the option to wear their own N95.

What are the benefits of wearing N95 masks?

N95 masks effectively filter particulates and aerosols from the air. This includes aerosols that may contain COVID-19. A N95 generally offers a greater degree of protection than a surgical mask because a N95 fits more closely against a wearer’s skin. With a closer fit, there’s less potential for aerosols and particulates to leak around the edges of a N95 into a person’s breathing zone.

Are we still asking donors to remove their own N95 mask and replace it with one of our masks?

Should a donor come in with their own N95 mask, they have the option to continue wearing it or replace it with one of our surgical masks. They are no longer required to wear a surgical mask over top of their N95.

Can I reuse a N95 mask?

N95 masks are designed to be single-use PPE. Although there is ongoing research about the extent to which N95 mask may be re-used, Canadian Blood Services does not recommend re-use of N95 masks.

Are N95 masks recyclable? 

Yes. Look for recycling receptacles in your workplace.

How can we be certain a donor’s N95 mask is acceptable? Wouldn’t putting one of our surgical masks over their N95 alleviate these concerns?

At this time, we know that respirator masks like N95 are more effective against variants, like Omicron. We trust that our donors choose to wear the most appropriate mask for themselves. 

If you see obvious signs of wear, soiling or contamination, please offer them a new N95 mask, if supply allows, or a surgical mask. 

If you notice that a donor’s N95 appears to have an exhalation valve, then ask the donor to wear a CBS-supplied surgical mask over top or switch for one of our surgical or N95 masks. 

Do we have access to different sizes of the N95 masks?

Yes, we have ordered various models of N95 masks that will provide additional fit options and they are expected to arrive in early March.

Are the N95 masks hypo-allergenic or latex free?

The brand of N95 mask we procured is not hypo-allergenic, however the straps are latex-free. If you are not able to wear the CBS-supplied N95 masks, please continue wearing whichever mask you have been wearing; or you can choose to wear your own N95 mask from home.

Will N95 masks be available for vendors?

Yes, if a vendor comes to one of our sites to perform work, they can have a N95 mask if they ask for one, and if supply allows. If they arrive wearing their own N95 mask or N95-like respirator, they are permitted to continue wearing it.

Are N95 masks available for employees working from home?

At this time, due to the limited supply we are receiving, masks will be available for employees and volunteers who are working on site. If you are a remote worker and need to come on-site for your job, a N95 mask will be available to you if you choose to wear one.

Do we need to be cleanly-shaven to wear a N95 mask?

In order for the N95 mask to fit properly and achieve the intended seal around the nose and mouth, the manufacturer indicates that the face must be clean-shaven. Wearing a N95 mask is not mandatory, and It is recommended that N95 wearers be clean shaven.

As an employee/volunteer, I don’t feel like I should have to wear a mask as it’s no longer required in my region. 

We understand some provinces no longer require masks to be worn in indoor spaces. However, many businesses and health care organizations have indicated their intention to maintain mask requirements on their premises even though they are no longer required to do so.   

Canadian Blood Services believes that wearing a mask continues to be an important tool to reduce the spread of COVID-19, safeguard our employees, protect our operations and prevent disruptions in delivering life-saving products to patients.   

We have witnessed the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic, along with unpredictable variants, and throughout these uncertain times, mask wearing has remained a constant and reliable tool in keeping everyone safe.  

For these reasons, Canadian Blood Services has made the decision to continue its mandatory mask policy for all employees, volunteers, contractors, visitors and donors across Canada.   

We will continue to monitor the ongoing pandemic and will reassess our mask policy when we feel it’s appropriate to make any changes. We thank you for your ongoing patience and commitment to keeping your team safe and our operations safe.

What about administrative sites?

As we continue to protect our operations against the spread of COVID-19, we ask that all employees, including those not working in collections environments, continue following our mask policy.

Throughout this unpredictable pandemic, mask wearing has remained a constant, reliable tool in keeping everyone safe. We will continue to monitor the ongoing pandemic and will reassess our mask policy when we feel it’s appropriate to make any changes. We thank you for your ongoing patience and commitment to keeping your team safe and our operations safe.

What do we say to donors who expect masks should not be a requirement?

Please let donors know that although your region has lifted mask requirements, we have decided for the time being that masks will remain mandatory in our environments across Canada.

This is because Canadian Blood Services believes that wearing a mask continues to be an important tool to reduce the spread of COVID-19, safeguard our employees, protect our operations and prevent disruptions in delivering life-saving products for patients. We have witnessed the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic, along with unpredictable variants, and throughout these uncertain times, mask wearing has remained a constant, reliable tool in keeping everyone safe.

For these reasons, Canadian Blood Services has made the decision to continue its mandatory mask policy for all employees, contractors, volunteers, visitors and donors.

We will continue to monitor the ongoing pandemic and will reassess our mask policy when we feel it’s appropriate to make any changes. We thank donors for their ongoing patience and commitment to Canada’s Lifeline.

What do we say to donors who expect masks should not be a requirement?

Yes. If the venue hosting a mobile blood donor event does not require you wear a mask, you will be asked to wear a mask upon entry to our collections environment.

We understand this can cause confusion and frustration. Wearing a mask is an important way to reduce the spread of COVID-19, safeguard our employees, protect our operations and prevent disruptions in delivering life-saving products for patients. We have witnessed the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic, along with unpredictable variants, and throughout these uncertain times, mask wearing has remained a constant, reliable tool in keeping everyone safe.

For these reasons, Canadian Blood Services has made the decision to continue its mandatory mask policy for all employees, contractors, volunteers, visitors and donors across Canada.

We will continue to monitor the ongoing pandemic and will reassess our mask policy when we feel it’s appropriate to make any changes. We thank donors for their ongoing patience and commitment to Canada’s Lifeline.

How to put on and remove your surgical mask
Image
"How to wear a mask"


Watch video

How to put on and remove your N95 mask (guidance session)
Darren MacPherson wearing a N95 Mask


Watch video

How to remove and discard your gloves
Image
How to remove your gloves


Watch video

Types of masks used at Canadian Blood Services

The safety of our employees and volunteers is our top priority. Before providing masks to our teams, our vendors must demonstrate their supply of masks are acceptable by Health Canada. As we continue to source new supplies of masks, these necessary processes will continue to ensure the quality of our inventory and safety of our teams.

We have sourced inventory of masks from a number of different suppliers. Click below to see the different brands of masks available to frontline employees, what the packaging looks like and how the masks look when worn. If you have questions or concerns please reach out to the procurement team for further guidance.

Oliberte Level 1 – 50 Pack

Oliberte Masks
  • Surgical masks are most effective when dry. If your surgical mask becomes wet from perspiration or otherwise, it should be removed immediately. Canadian Blood Services supply of Canadian Oliberte Masks are certified to ASTM-1. Meaning they meet a certain level of breathability and filtration efficacy.
  • There are circumstances where the mask could become wet within an hour of wearing it, such as excessive sweating. For this reason, Oliberte has recommended that their masks be exchanged after one hour, as they cannot regulate that the user will know to change their mask should it be become wet. 
  • ASTM-1 certified masks, such as the Oliberte supply, should be changed once every eight hours unless the mask has become wet. Should the mask become wet from sweating or otherwise, it should be changed immediately. 
  • To limit the spread of COVID-19, surgical masks should not be reused 

Ensy (ProMed) Level 3 – 50 Pack (hypoallergenic)

Ensy Pro med masks
  • Surgical masks are most effective when dry. If your surgical mask becomes wet from perspiration or otherwise, it should be removed immediately. 
  • Our supply of hypoallergenic masks are limited. We encourage employees to only use these masks if needed. 
  • To limit the spread of COVID-19, surgical masks should not be reused

3M™ N95 8210 Mask

N95s are disposable masks that filter 95% of particulates and aerosols as small as 0.3 microns from the air. They should be worn as directed by the manufacturer, and removed like this. N95s are designed to be single-use, and should be discarded after they are worn.  N95s should also be disposed of if they become damaged or wet.