By James L. Curtis, Patrick D. Joyce, and Craig B. Simonsen
Seyfarth Synopsis: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released a series of frequently asked questions and answers regarding the use of masks in the workplace to assist the regulated community.
Right up front, the FAQs settles once and for all the question of whether OSHA considers cloth or makeshift face coverings to be regulated PPE: they are not. The FAQs also outline the differences between cloth face coverings, surgical masks, and respirators, and notes that cloth face coverings “may be commercially produced or improvised (i.e., homemade) garments, scarves, bandanas, or items made from t-shirts or other fabrics.” The FAQs remind employers not to use surgical masks or cloth face coverings when respirators are necessary and if respirators are required, a proper respiratory protection program should be in place. In addition, the FAQs note 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.”
In the news release accompanying the FAQs, OSHA Administrator Loren Sweatt recognized that “as our economy reopens for business, millions of Americans will be wearing masks in their workplace for the first time,” and “OSHA is ready to help workers and employers understand how to properly use masks so they can stay safe and healthy in the workplace.”
For more information on this or any related topic, please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Workplace Safety and Health (OSHA/MSHA) Team.