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OSHA Recommends that Employers Encourage Workers to Wear Face Coverings at Work

As the national economy reopens, an unprecedented number of workers will be required to wear faces masks in the workplace for the first time.

To help employers provide a safer work environment, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published a series of answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding the use of masks in the workplace. The new guidance outlines the differences between cloth face coverings, surgical masks and respirators. 

Among other things, the FAQs explain that:  

  • OSHA generally recommends that employers encourage workers to wear face coverings at work;
  • Cloth face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing measures;
  • OSHA suggests following CDC recommendations, and always washing or discarding cloth face coverings that are visibly soiled; and
  • Employers must not use surgical masks or cloth face coverings when respirators are needed.

More information is available here.

Next Steps

Employers should review this updated guidance, as well as ensure that they continue to follow the guidelines as required by NY Forward (as applicable). Where federal and state guidance differ, employers must adhere to the guidance that provides the greatest protection for employees.

HR Works Can Help

For additional information on NY Forward guidelines and return to work assistance, employers may visit the HR Works COVID-19 Resource page. Additionally, HR Works is offering Return to Work Services which includes customizable, hands-on support and guidance to make it easier for businesses to reopen while keeping their employees safe and remaining compliant. Employers who would like more information on our Return to Work Services may contact for a referral to a HR Works Business Development team member.

HR Works, Inc., headquartered in Upsate New York, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.