Acceptable Alternatives to Cloth Face Coverings When Deemed Inappropriate for COVID-19 Protection

June 10, 2020

Where cloth face coverings are not appropriate in the work environment or during certain tasks (e.g., because they could become contaminated or exacerbate heat illness), OSHA allows employers to provide alternative PPE, such as face shields and/or surgical masks.

Like cloth face coverings, surgical masks and face shields can help contain the employee’s potentially infectious respiratory droplets and help limit the spread of COVID-19. Using a face shield in lieu of a cloth face covering can help workers stay cooler in hot climates and reduce the fogging of safety glasses.

If you choose to provide your employees with face shields, it is important they understand the difference between face shields rated for construction tasks (e.g., grinding) and face shields used in the medical industry, which have no built-in impact protection. Most importantly, make sure all your employees have the proper face protection based on the work they will be performing.

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