On June 10, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released new guidance, in the form of frequently asked questions and answers, regarding the use of masks in the workplace.
The new guidance outlines the differences between cloth face coverings, surgical masks and respirators. It further 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. (For our FAQ on face coverings, click here.)
Importantly, the new 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. OSHA states that the “recommendations are advisory in nature, informational in content, and are intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace.”
We’ve copied the most helpful OSHA FAQs here and underlined pertinent language for emphasis:
Are employers required to provide cloth face coverings to workers?
Cloth face coverings are not considered personal protective equipment (PPE) and are not intended to be used when workers need PPE for protection against exposure to occupational hazards. As such, OSHA’s PPE standards do not require employers to provide them.