When is a cloth face covering not appropriate while at work, and what can employees wear instead?
Cloth face coverings can prevent the wearer from spreading COVID-19 to others, but they may not always be appropriate. Employees should consider using an alternative under certain conditions at work, including:
- If they have trouble breathing.
- If they are unable to remove it without help.
- If it interferes with vision, glasses, or eye protection.
- If straps, strings, or other parts of the covering could get caught in equipment.
- If other work hazards associated with wearing the covering are identified and cannot be addressed without removal of the face covering.
Cloth face coverings should not be worn if their use creates a new risk (e.g., interferes with driving or vision, contributes to heat-related illness) that exceeds their benefit of slowing the spread of the virus.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) suggests that an employee wear a face shield if a cloth face covering is recommended but the employee cannot tolerate wearing a cloth face covering. If used, a face shield should cover the entire front and sides of the face and extend below the chin.