FAQ’s About Face Coverings in the Workplace

Source: Andriy Popov/123RF

As Americans return to their places of employment after months of quarantine, OSHA has issued guidance for the wearing of face masks and respirators in the workplace.

Some of the common questions asked are:

  • What are the key differences between cloth face coverings, surgical masks, and respirators?
  • Are employers required to provide cloth face coverings to workers?
  • What are the social distancing requirements? and
  • How do I keep reusable face cloth masks clean?

The guide reminds employers not to use surgical masks or cloth face coverings when respirators are needed. In addition, the guidance notes the need for social distancing measures, even when workers are wearing cloth face coverings, and recommends following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance on washing face coverings.

Previously, OSHA published numerous guidance documents for workers and employers, available at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/, including five guidance documents aimed at expanding the availability of respirators. For further information and resources about the coronavirus disease, please visit OSHA’s coronavirus webpage.

Workers should understand that wearing a facemask is not just for your protection, but for others’ as well.

OSHA states: ” The recommendations are advisory in nature, informational in content, and are intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace.”