OSHA Issues Guidelines – Face Masks & Respirators

As the national economy reopens, an unprecedented number of workers will be required to wear faces masks in the workplace for the first time.

To help employers provide a safer work environment, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published a series of answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding the use of masks in the workplace. The new guidance outlines the differences between cloth face coverings, surgical masks and respirators.

Among other things, the FAQs explain that:

  • Cloth face coverings are not considered personal protective equipment and employers are not required to provide them;
  • OSHA generally recommends that employers encourage workers to wear face coverings at work;
  • Cloth face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing measures;
  • OSHA suggests following CDC recommendations, and always washing or discarding cloth face coverings that are visibly soiled; and
  • Employers must not use surgical masks or cloth face coverings when respirators are needed.

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