The use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of COVID-19 has led to questions and confusion about what constitutes personal protective equipment (PPE) and what doesn’t. While CDC guidance recommends wearing cloth face masks when in public to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which oversees workplace safety, has provided recent guidance clearly stating that cloth face coverings are not considered PPE as they will not protect the wearer against airborne transmissible infectious agents due to loose fit and lack of seal or inadequate filtration. Read our recent article for more OSHA guidance related to COVID-19.
OSHA has also clearly stated that cloth face coverings are not appropriate substitutes for PPE such as respirators (e.g., N95 respirators) or medical face masks (e.g., surgical masks) in workplaces where respirators or face masks are recommended or required to protect the wearer. Use the following guidelines to help you navigate the differences between respirators, disposable face masks and cloth face coverings.
Disposable face masks
Cloth face coverings
If workers need respirators, they must be used in the context of a comprehensive respiratory protection program that meets the requirements of OSHA's Respiratory Protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134) and includes medical exams, fit testing, and training.
Register for our webinar Safety Compliance 101: Respiratory Protection to learn more about written program requirements, required medical clearance, employee training, fit test requirements, and record retention.
Amy assists clients with identifying and mitigating risk, resolves carrier loss prevention recommendations, develops and implements safety programs, evaluates training needs and delivers customized training solutions.
Amy assists clients with identifying and mitigating risk, resolves carrier loss prevention recommendations, develops and implements safety programs, evaluates training needs and delivers customized training solutions. She brings a practical approach that has been developed in the real world which translates into improving client safety performance. Amy’s strengths include developing safety programs compliant with OSHA and DOT regulations, conducting management and employee training, organizing and leading safety committees, enhancing safety awareness and building safety cultures and facilitating carrier loss control inspections.
If you could give human form to your safety culture, what would it look like?
Maybe it would be a thick-set, shirtless brute named Trog with a foul disposition beating out a drum cadence to keep your employees rowing in-sync.
Or would it be more like a fussy and constantly disapproving Dickensian paper-pusher named Fizzlewhite who has never met a rule or procedure he didn’t like, even though he hasn’t done most of the things he creates rules to address?
If you were to search the various “mommy blogs” and parenting advice websites out there, how many of them do you think would endorse the following practice?
A child’s safety should always be a top priority for any parent. When leaving children under the age of 10 alone in the house for lengthy periods of time, be sure to provide the kids with a loaded pistol with the safety off in case a stranger should happen by. In a pinch, recently sharpened knives can be substituted for the pistol.
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