Plexiglass to the Rescue
The fight against Covid-19 is a fight against airborne droplets. We’re up against the highest-velocity actions that the body is capable of: Sneezing and Coughing. A sneeze can send droplets flying 30 feet, at speeds up to 100 mph. To defend against this, many organizations are investing in plexiglass barriers known as Sneeze Guards.
This article explores sneeze guards as a social distancing solution. You’ll learn about recommendations from leading health experts, how plexiglass barriers are being used in America, cleaning technique, and considerations when searching for sneeze guards of your own.
What do the Experts Say?
Health experts agree that sneeze guards are a worthwhile solution for slowing the spread of coronavirus. The World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration all encourage the use of plastic barriers. Sneeze guards do not eliminate the need for additional preventative measures, but they are broadly recommended. Experts point to several key benefits of using barriers:
- Stop airborne droplets from traveling
- Enforce social distance in circumstances where it otherwise may be difficult
- Reduce the need for other PPE such as face shields, to help prevent shortages
Plexiglass Barriers in America
For many businesses, face to face interaction is impossible to avoid. Some things can’t be accomplished while six feet apart. American grocery chains were quick to adapt to this new reality- In early spring of 2020, Walmart, Kroger and Albertsons installed plexiglass barriers to protect their guests and checkout staff. Our fabrication studio here at ACME helped grocery stores in Portland do the same. In May, we built and installed plexiglass barriers at several locations for Zupan’s Markets.
Sneeze guards have long been used in the food industry. They were first developed in 1959 by Johnny Garneau, owner of a buffet called Smorgasbords. Since then, the Food and Drug Administration codified barriers as a requirement for food displays in certain states. In 2020, plexiglass barriers are experiencing an unprecedented rise in popularity. It is yet to be seen whether this trend may bring sneeze guards into health and safety codes outside the food industry.
How to Clean a Sneeze Guard
Social distancing barriers must be cleaned regularly. Daily sanitization is ideal if possible. To prevent scratching, a microfiber towel is highly recommended for wiping the surface. Plaskolite, a leading manufacturer of plastic sheets, released this guide for disinfecting plastic barriers. They report that some cleaners can cause damage or visual imperfections to the material. The following options are recommended, easily available and perfectly safe for cleaning plexiglass:
- 70% isopropyl alcohol
- Warm dish washing soap solution
- Hydrogen peroxide 3-5%
Considerations for Choosing Your Barrier
There are several things to consider when selecting a sneeze guard. Does your barrier need a cutout section for interaction or passing objects? These cutout windows are often referred to as Passthroughs. A passthrough should be relatively small, and located away from the face.
Standalone barriers are an effective option for a temporary sneeze guard. Barriers that hang from the ceiling are less recommended- they tend to sway and waft air. Thickness is another important factor. Plexiglass barriers often come in thicknesses of 1/8”, 3/16”, or 1/4”. ACME sneeze guards are built 1/4” thick to guarantee durability.
When choosing barrier size, you must take into consideration who will be behind it. Context also matters. A young student sitting at a desk will need a much different barrier than an adult standing at a checkout line. You’ll get the best results from a sneeze guard that is designed to protect a specific area. For example, our fabrication studio built plexiglass barriers for the corporate offices of commercial real estate company Melvin Mark. We matched their partitions to the exact length of each cubicle, protecting employees from multiple sides without gaps.
Get in Touch
Even after the challenges of Covid-19 are behind us, public health will remain a heightened concern. Plexiglass barriers are a long-lasting and widely recommended option for addressing these worries. If you are in need of a social distancing solution, ACME can help. We’ve built custom sneeze guards for medical offices, front desks and reception areas, restaurants, grocery chains and more. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more. Stay safe and thanks for reading.