OSHA Provides COVID-19 Guidance for Businesses and Institutions with Employees Using Cloth Face Coverings
The professionals at Clark Seif Clark provide infection control consulting, employee training, indoor environmental quality testing, PPE expertise and third-party project management verification services to assess cleaning and disinfection protocols.
Chatsworth, CA -- With most businesses and institutions reopened even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, employers have had to implement a number of safeguards to protect their workers and the customers they serve. One of the very visible changes in many parts of the country has been the use of face coverings in the workplace.
For those utilizing cloth face coverings, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently released guidance on their use when working indoors, especially in hot and humid conditions. According to the agency, employers should observe the following practices to protect against the spread of COVID-19 and the risk of heat-related illness:
· Acclimatize new and returning workers to environmental and work conditions while wearing cloth face coverings.
· Prioritize the use of cloth face coverings when workers are in close contact with others (less than 6 feet), such as during group travel or shift meetings.
· Allow workers to remove cloth face coverings when they can safely maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance from others.
· Evaluate the feasibility of wearing cloth face coverings for each worker and consider alternatives (e.g., face shields) when appropriate.
· Increase the frequency of hydration and rest breaks in cooled environments.
· Incorporate at least 6 feet of physical distancing into break areas by staggering breaks, spacing workers, or limiting the number of workers on break at a time, where feasible.
· Enhance ventilation throughout the worksite, including in break areas, where feasible.
· Allow workers to return to personal vehicles during breaks to use air conditioning, when possible. Multiple workers should generally not return to the same car.
· If fans are used, avoid directing the fan so it pushes air over multiple people at the same time, since fans may increase the distance respiratory droplets can travel.
· Encourage workers to use cloth face coverings that optimize fit and comfort and are made out of breathable, moisture-wicking materials.
· Encourage workers to change cloth face coverings when wet, as wet face coverings make it more difficult to breathe and are not as effective. Provide clean replacement cloth face coverings or disposable face masks, as needed, for workers to change into throughout the work shift.
· Ensure workers use handwashing facilities or hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol often, as heat or moisture build-up may cause workers to put on and take off cloth face coverings frequently.
· Allow workers to wear personal passive cooling items (e.g., icepack vests, cooling bandanas) and loose-fitting and breathable clothes, as long as these items do not present a safety hazard.
· Plan for heat emergencies and train workers on heat stress prevention and treatment.
· Increase the frequency of communication to workers and encourage workers to monitor themselves and others for signs of heat illness.
“Keeping businesses and institutions open during this pandemic depends on a number of factors, including the use of face coverings in many circumstances, hand washing and social distancing when possible,” said Franco Seif, President of Clark Seif Clark (CSC). “Other key steps employers should take include assessing ventilation and indoor air quality conditions, third party confirmation and testing of surface cleaning and disinfection protocols, employee education and training, and creating contingency plans in case employees get sick or come in contact with an infected individual. At Clark Seif Clark, our infection control, industrial hygiene and indoor environmental quality experts proudly offer these and other services to support our clients during these challenging times.”
CSC also recently sponsored an educational video about OSHA’s COVID-19 Guidance on the Use of Cloth Face Coverings while Working Indoors in Hot and Humid Conditions that can be seen at: https://youtu.be/o--I_pbG9S8
To learn more about this or other building science, infection control, industrial hygiene, indoor air quality, environmental, health and safety services, please visit www.csceng.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (800) 807-1118.
About Clark Seif Clark
CSC was established in 1989 to help clients in both public and private sectors address indoor air quality, occupational, environmental, and health and safety (EH&S) issues. CSC is a leading provider of these services with multiple offices along the western seaboard and southwest. The company believes in science-based protocols and has a strong background in engineering, making them the preferred environmental consultants to industrial clients, healthcare facilities, architects, schools, builders, contractors, developers and real estate professionals.