Federal agencies

Are cloth facial coverings PPE? OSHA updates COVID-19 FAQ list

Worker with PPE
Photo: Vladimir Vladimirov/iStockphoto

Washington — Does OSHA consider cloth facial coverings equal to personal protective equipment? The agency addresses the question in a new addition to its series of frequently asked questions on protecting workers from exposure to the coronavirus.

In a Nov. 18 press release, OSHA notes that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently determined that “some cloth face coverings may serve as source control while also providing the wearer with some personal protection.”

OSHA’s response is that not enough information is available to determine if cloth facial coverings provide enough protection to be considered PPE under the agency’s standard (1910.132).


“OSHA’s determination is consistent with statements made by the CDC, which has stated it needs more research on cloth facemasks’ protective effects, particularly on the combination of materials that maximize blocking and filtering effectiveness,” the release states.

The agency encourages workers to wear facial coverings when in close contact with others to prevent the spread of COVID-19, unless it’s not “appropriate for the work environment.”

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