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US | OSHA Publishes Guidance for Workers Wearing Cloth Face Coverings in Hot and Humid Environments

In September 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published two guidance documents on the use of cloth face coverings while working indoors or outdoors in hot and humid conditions.

Suggestions for helping workers in hot and humid conditions include:

  • Acclimatization while wearing face coverings.
  • Prioritizing the use of coverings while in close contact with others.
  • Allow workers to remove face coverings when they can safely remain at least 6 feet away from others.
  • Evaluate the feasibility of cloth face coverings for each worker and consider alternatives such as face shields when appropriate.
  • Increase the frequency of hydration and rest breaks in shaded, non-enclosed, or air-conditioned areas.
  • Take steps to ensure break areas allow employees to maintain 6 feet of distance.
  • Allow workers to return to personal vehicles during breaks to use air conditioning when possible.
  • Enhance ventilation throughout the worksite, where feasible.
  • If fans are used, avoid directing the fan so it pushes air over multiple people at the same time.
  • Encourage workers to use cloth face coverings that optimize fit and comfort, are made of breathable, moisture-wicking materials, and use light colors when working in direct sunlight.
  • Encourage workers to change their face coverings when wet, as wet face coverings make it more difficult to breathe and are not as effective. Provide clean replacement coverings or disposable masks.
  • Ensure workers use handwashing facilities or sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol often, as heat or moisture may cause workers to put on and take off face coverings frequently.
  • Avoid scheduling strenuous tasks during the hottest parts of the day and alter work shifts to cooler parts of the day, when possible.
  • Allow workers to wear personal passive cooling items and loose-fitting and breathable clothes, if they do not present a safety hazard.
  • Plan for heat emergencies and train workers on heat stress prevention and treatment.
  • Increase the frequency of communication to workers and encourage workers to monitor themselves and others for signs of heat illness.
____________________ Sources:COVID-19 Guidance on the Use of Cloth Face Coverings while Working Outdoors in Hot and Humid Conditions COVID-19 Guidance on the Use of Cloth Face Coverings while Working Indoors in Hot and Humid Conditions ____________________ Red-on-line provides personalized regulatory monitoring to help you to maintain compliance with changing EHS regulations. Click here to learn more about our software and regulatory update services, and to subscribe to our regulatory update newsletter.

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