The CDC has stated that COVID-19 spreads primarily via transmission of respiratory droplets from person to person. They recommend that all individuals over the age of two wear a cloth face mask in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to achieve. With the possibility of asymptomatic virus carriers, cloth face masks have become accepted as an important measure for preventing the spread of COVID-19.
OSHA recognizes that cloth face masks can be an important protective measure in preventing the spread of COVID-19, but also provide some caveats for construction industry employees.
Cloth Face Masks Are Not Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Cloth face masks are not a substitute for other types of required face coverings. Many construction sites have respiratory hazards, such as particulate or vapor hazards, that typically require the use of a hazard-specific respirator. When this is the case, respirators should be used, and cloth face masks should not be worn with or as a subsitute for a respirator.
Wearing a Single Cloth Face Mask All Day
OSHA has also pointed out that it may not be practical for a construction employee to wear a single cloth face mask all day. A construction worker’s mask may become wet, soiled, or otherwise visibly contaminated during the workday. OSHA suggests that construction employers should make replacement face masks readily available for use.