Some employers are drinking the Kool-Aid on requiring masks (or PPE) to be worn by their employees. Little do many employers know that by requiring them to wear the masks, the employer recognizes a hazard. By acknowledging the hazard, federal law requires them to equip their employees with a proper fitting mask at the employer’s cost. The employer must offer a selection of masks to choose from for a proper fit. Even N-95 masks come in a variety of sizes. After the employee is comfortable with the fit, there is a required fit testing, either qualitative or quantitative.
I have ran a variety of quantitative fit tests and I can tell you, its not easy to pass the test. Facial hair is the most common reason for a failure, even a 5 o’clock shadow. But before all this happens, the employee must complete a medical questionnaire and a follow up with a physician to complete the medical evaluation. 29 CFR 1910.134(m)(1)
The employer is required to keep an inventory of respirators in stock with at least a monthly inspection. 29 CFR 1910.134(h)(2) & 29 CFR 1919.134(h)(3)
The employer must train the employee on the use of the respirator and proper wearing because just handing a person the mask isn’t good enough. 29 CFR 1910.134(k)
The employer must keep a record of all of the inspections, fit testing, medical evaluations of all active and former employees, etc. 29 CFR 1910.134(m)
This is just a sample of the can o’ worms that an employer is up against if he or she determines that a respirator of some sort is required. There has been no issued orders for waiving any of these federal codes. Gone are the days of just handing a piece of equipment to someone without putting a burden back on the employer.
My thoughts are, if you are required to wear a respirator of some sort and you want to, go ahead and wear it. Just don’t buy into the mind control that goes with it in 2020. I will likely wear a mask if I’m told because I’ve done sillier things put forth by an employer. If the employer gets too controlling, I’m going to start quoting Federal Code, chapter & verse.
One last thing, a respirator must be NIOSH certified and just a homemade job won’t do. I do know there are a lot of non-certified masks manufactured by China out on the market with an N95 stamp.
Here’s a list of certified NIOSH respirators:
The Federal Law requiring these procedures are:
29 CFR 1910.132 General PPE Requirements
29 CFR 1910.133 Eye & Facial Protection
29 CFR 1910.134 Respiratory Protection