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Compiled from OSHA.gov

During the COVID-19 pandemic, OSHA generally recommends that employers encourage workers to wear cloth face coverings at work to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. However, workers who wear cloth face coverings in hot and humid environments or while performing strenuous activities outdoors, such as those in landscaping and related work environments can find cloth face coverings to be uncomfortable.

Employee Safety

(Photo: Getty Images)

 

Lawn care and landscape employers are recommended to follow the below safety practices to protect against the spread of COVID-19 and the risk of heat-related illness among their workforce.

Lawn care and landscape employers are recommended to follow the below practices to protect against the spread of COVID-19 and the risk of heat-related illness among their workforce.

  • Acclimatize new and returning workers to environmental and work conditions while wearing cloth face coverings.
    Employee Safety

    When possible, avoid scheduling strenuous tasks during the hottest parts of the day and alter work shifts to cooler parts of the day. (Photo: Getty Images)

  • Prioritize use of cloth face coverings when workers are in close contact with others (less than six feet), such as during group travel or shift meetings. 
  • Allow workers to remove cloth face coverings when they can safely maintain at least six feet of physical distance from others.
  • Evaluate the feasibility of wearing cloth face coverings for each worker and consider alternatives (e.g., face shields) when appropriate.
  • Increase the frequency of hydration and rest breaks in shaded, non-enclosed, or air conditioned areas.
  • Incorporate at least six feet of physical distancing into break areas used by employees by staggering breaks, spacing workers, and limiting the number of workers on break at a time, where this is feasible.
  • Allow workers to return to vehicles during breaks to use air conditioning, when possible. Multiple workers should generally not return to the same truck/vehicle.

OSHA & CDC  Web Resources

For interim guidance on protecting workers from COVID-19, visit OSHA COVID-19 web page.

For guidance on protecting workers from heat stress, visit OSHA occupational heat exposure web page.

For guidance on heat illness prevention during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s web pages for employers.

For the latest information on masks, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 and masks web page.

  • If fans are used in work areas, avoid directing the fan so it pushes air over multiple people at the same time, since fans may increase the distance respiratory droplets can travel.
  • Encourage workers to use cloth face coverings that optimize fit and comfort, are made out of breathable, moisture-wicking materials, and use light colors when working in direct sunlight.
  • Encourage workers to change cloth face coverings when wet, as working with wet face coverings make it more difficult to breathe and are not as effective in protecting people. Provide clean replacement cloth face coverings or disposable face masks, as needed, for workers to change into throughout the work shift.
    Employee Safety

    Evaluate the feasibility of wearing cloth face coverings for each worker and consider alternatives when appropriate. (Photo: Getty Images)

  • Ensure workers use handwashing facilities or hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol often, as heat or moisture build-up may cause workers to put on and take off cloth face coverings frequently. 
  • Avoid scheduling strenuous tasks during the hottest parts of the day and alter work shifts to cooler parts of the day, when possible. 
  • Allow workers to wear personal passive cooling items (e.g., icepack vests, cooling bandanas) and loose-fitting and breathable clothes, as long as these items do not present a safety hazard. 
  • Plan for heat emergencies and train workers on heat stress prevention and treatment.
  • Increase the frequency of communication to workers and encourage workers to monitor themselves and others for signs of heat illness.

The OSHA guidance points out that is important to note that cloth face coverings should not be used as a substitute for engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, or necessary personal protective equipment (PPE).

This information was made available by OSHA in September 2020 on its website.

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