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Renseignements en Français

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Mask Use in the Workplace

The following information is used with permission of the Government of Ontario and modified for Saskatchewan regulations.

Under The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 1996, employers must take every reasonable precaution to protect the health and safety of workers. This includes protecting workers from hazards posed by infectious diseases. In order to limit exposure to COVID-19, employers must complete a hazard assessment and follow the hierarchy of controls to determine appropriate preventative measures for their specific:

  • workplace setting
  • workers
  • contractors
  • clients

Visit WorkSafe Saskatchewan for information on conducting a hazard assessment and developing a safety plan.

This page provides more specific information to help you make decisions about the use of masks in your workplace. It does not replace The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations and should not be used as or considered legal advice.

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1. COVID-19 Control Measures that Use Masks

Masks have two main functions at a workplace:

  • A cloth or non-medical mask can be used as source control to prevent respiratory droplets (such as from a cough or sneeze) from spreading to others.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) protects workers from potential infections from others. PPE will also work as source control.

Not all masks are suitable for both purposes. If you use masks in your workplace, you will need to make sure workers are trained on the type of mask they are using and its limitations. Workers should be told whether they are using masks as source control or PPE.

Conducting the hazard assessment will help you determine which type of mask is appropriate in your workplace. The Re-Open Saskatchewan plan, mandatory public health orders and municipal bylaws may require that masks be worn in certain places. These orders must be considered in your assessment.

Using a mask should not introduce any new health or safety hazards into the workplace (such as masks getting caught in machinery or restricting vision).

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2. Masks as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

In non-health-care workplaces, PPE may include a surgical or procedure mask, and in some cases eye protection, such as a face shield or goggles.

Note that face shields do not replace masks or face coverings.

When workers are performing tasks that require them to work within two metres of an unmasked person, conducting a hazard assessment will help you determine which control measures would best be used, such as barriers (for example, Plexiglas, partition, wall) or PPE.

Correct use of PPE should not take the place of other control measures, including physical distancing and handwashing.

If you determine that personal protective equipment is needed in your workplace, you will need to:

  • train workers on the care, use and limitations of PPE
  • maintain your supply of PPE and ensure it is readily available to workers

Masks used as PPE must be approved by an appropriate standard, such as ASTM International mask standard. The standard can also provide information on mask qualities such as breathability, filtration, and fluid resistance.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented demand for certain supplies, including medical masks and PPE. Please ensure you are using the right controls to protect your workers.

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3. Considerations When Selecting a Cloth or Non-Medical Mask

Information is available from the Government of Saskatchewan on the most current Guidance on Cloth and Non-Medical Masks. This includes tips on how to wear a mask.

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4. Accommodations

Not all people are able to wear masks, for example, because of a health condition as advised by a medical professional. Develop a policy to address these situations before they arise.

Accommodation must not result in reduced protection for workers. Employers may need to implement other control measures to replace the protection that would be provided by the mask.

Different types of masks fit people differently. Workers may need to try various options to find a mask that works for them.

For people who need to have their faces seen, masks with clear panels are available for source control and PPE. If you choose to use a mask with clear panels as PPE, ensure that the mask is designed to meet this purpose.

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