OSHA recently issued FAQs on cloth face coverings to address inaccurate claims that they cause unsafe oxygen or harmful carbon dioxide levels for the wearer. OSHA recommends that employers encourage workers to wear medical masks or cloth face coverings at work to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Although 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, face coverings help prevent the transmission of COVID-19, especially among people who are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, by reducing the spread of potentially infectious respiratory droplets to others, also known as “source control.”
Employers have the discretion to determine whether to allow employees to wear cloth face coverings in the workplace based on the specific circumstances present at the work site. For some workers, employers may determine that wearing cloth face coverings presents a hazard (e.g., because they could become contaminated or exacerbate heat illness).
When cloth face coverings are not appropriate, employers can provide PPE, such as face shields and/or surgical masks, which can help contain the wearer's potentially infectious respiratory droplets and can help limit spread of COVID-19 to others.
Learn more about cloth face coverings on the CDC website.