As businesses open and employees return to work, large numbers of employees of workers will be required to wear faces masks in the workplace.

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 to help employers provide a safer work environment. The guidance outlines the differences between cloth face coverings, surgical masks and respirators.

Guidance includes:

  • Cloth face coverings are not considered personal protective equipment and employers are not required to provide them. (Employee Benefit Advisors believes this is an extremely important as it could provide the employer a layer of liability protection.)
  • 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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