People working in healthcare, manufacturing, and many other industries wear personal protective equipment (PPE) as routine. Still, thanks to COVID-19, workers in other industries must now wear PPE if their work environment involves coming in contact with other people.
Many states have mandatory mask policies in place, which means this particular type of PPE must be worn in public under the law. Masks have become a politically charged topic, and some people doubt the effectiveness of certain masks against COVID-19, but those who choose not to follow regulations risk losing their job, getting fined, or receiving other punitive actions.
What Does OSHA Say?
Experts seem to agree that masks work best in conjunction with social distancing, handwashing, and other measures. They do not say masks alone can prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Likely based on this indication from experts, OSHA does not have regulations mandating face coverings, which means employers cannot be fined for not providing face coverings. Despite not mandating face masks, the federal agency does recommend wearing them and suggests employers enforce a mandatory mask policy.
In some jobs, wearing a face mask could pose a greater health risk, for instance, if there is a high risk that a mask could become contaminated with dangerous chemicals. In these situations, OSHA recommends that employers find other ways to mitigate the risk of COVID infection. Furthermore, employers must make reasonable accommodations if an employee can show that wearing a mask would pose a significant health risk due to a disability, or it infringes on their religious beliefs.
OSHA recommendations do not have the force of law behind them, and therefore, claims of an unsafe workplace cannot be dismissed simply by citing adherence to the recommendations. To be clear, if wearing a mask is mandatory at your workplace, you must wear one to remain employed; however, OSHA guidelines do not require employers to provide a mask for you.
Making and Wearing a Mask
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website has a page dedicated to making masks per its recommendations. The CDC recommends making a mask out of two 10-inch by 6-inch, tightly woven cotton fabric rectangles that are sewn together with cloth or elastic straps for securing the mask against the head.
Face masks should fit tightly but comfortably; so that they allow for adequate breathing. A mask should be worn lengthwise across the face so that it covers the mouth, nose, and chin. When being worn, a mask should be secured behind the head using ties or around the ears using loops of material.
Hands should be washed before putting on or taking off a face covering. Touching of the eyes, nose, or mouth should be avoided as much as possible.
We Can Help You Find a Safe Work Environment
Understandably, many people are concerned about the safety of their work environment due to COVID-19, and some are looking to leave an environment they feel is unsafe. If you are looking to change your work environment, please contact Nationwide Temporaries today.