On June 10, 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a frequently asked question (FAQ) document regarding cloth face coverings. This details the differences between face coverings, surgical masks, and respirators. It also covers the use of cloth face coverings at work.
According to OSHA, cloth face coverings are not considered personal protective equipment (PPE). As a result, OSHA’s PPE standards do not require employers to provide them. State and local jurisdictions may have their own face covering requirements. OSHA does encourage and recommend that workers wear face coverings at work.
Employers may choose to require cloth face coverings as a means of reducing transmission risk and providing a work environment free from recognized hazards. Employers should consider whether face coverings could pose a hazard in certain work environments. Hazards from face coverings could include the coverings becoming contaminated with chemicals or collecting infectious respiratory droplets. In these cases, employers could consider providing face shields or surgical masks.
Even if employers provide face coverings, they do not eliminate the need for social distancing at work.
Surgical masks or cloth face coverings cannot be used when respirators are required.
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