OSHA Releases Guidance on Masks in the Workplace

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published a series of frequently asked questions and answers regarding the use of masks in the workplace.

“As our economy reopens for business, millions of Americans will be wearing masks in their workplace for the first time,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. “OSHA is ready to help workers and employers understand how to properly use masks so they can stay safe and healthy in the workplace.”

The new guidance, released on June 10th, 2020:

  • outlines the differences between cloth face coverings, surgical masks, and respirators;
  • reminds employers not to use surgical masks or cloth face coverings when respirators are needed; and
  • notes the need for social distancing measures, even when workers are wearing cloth face coverings.

OSHA also recommends that employers train workers to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance on washing face coverings.

These frequently asked questions and answers mark the latest release from OSHA addressing protective measures for workplaces during the coronavirus pandemic. Previously, OSHA published numerous guidance documents for workers and employers, available at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/.

It is important for employers to note, however, that this guidance is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. It contains recommendations as well as descriptions of mandatory safety and health standards. The recommendations from OSHA are only advisory in nature and informational in content, and the guidance intends to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace, as required under the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act).

For more information on the OSH Act and other workplace safety obligations, visit www.osha.gov.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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