Workplace masks play an important role in limiting the transmission and spread of COVID-19. Whether it is to protect coworkers or members of the public, employers and employees need to understand when a mask must be worn, and the mask’s safety best practices.
Employers have a duty to ensure workplace safety, and where masks must be worn, they should be provided and the employer. The employer must ensure employees are wearing them appropriately, including them being worn in a way that covers the mouth and nose.
When Wearing A Mask Is Required
Your workplace risk assessment must address COVID-19 following the guidance set out by the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). This guidance covers control measures, working proximity, screens, and fixed team partnering.
Workplace masks must be worn by staff working in any indoor area and outdoor areas where they come into contact with a member of the public, in retail, hospitality, and leisure. These business types include shops, supermarkets, pubs, bars, restaurants, cafes, post offices, banks, estate agents, and public areas of hostels and hotels.
Employees can choose not to wear a mask when physical barriers between workers and the public are put in place. These physical barriers must follow the Health and Safety Executive Guidance For COVID-19 Secure Workplaces.
Staff do not need to wear workplace masks for some reasons related to health, disability, or age. You can view the government’s list of people exempt from wearing face coverings to see who this applies to.
Staff do not need a workplace masks exemption card from a medical professional. However, they can print one or show one on a mobile device if this makes the situation more comfortable. Staff can download an exemption card template to create theirs.
Mask hygiene is critical, and staff should wash their hands before and after putting the mask on or taking it off. They should not touch the front of the mask or any part of it that has been in contact with their nose or mouth. The best practice is to use the straps, clips, or ties to take off or put on the mask.
Single-use masks should be placed in a regular waste bin and not a recycling bin. Reusable workplace masks should be kept in a plastic bag until they are washed. Any surfaces the workplace masks have touched should be cleaned using household cleaning products.
Workers should throw away and replace masks if there is any visible damage. They should change the mask if it becomes wet or damp. They should avoid wearing the mask on their forehead or neck when not using it, not share the mask with another worker, and avoid taking off and putting on the mask many times in quick succession.