Fact check: OSHA does recommend the use of face masks amid COVID-19

A number of social media posts attribute a fabricated quote about the dangers of wearing face-coverings to OSHA. OSHA does recommend the use of face-coverings per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, according to Reuters.

The extract of the post referring to OSHA reads “(SIC) OSHA… Wearing Masks Longer Than 20 Min Without Changing Them Out Dangerously Increases Infection Rates, Increases Co2 Levels & Significantly Decreases Oxygen Levels Causing Multiple Life Threatening Illnesses & Existing Illness Flair Ups. Cloth masks increase infection risk”

Reuters did not find any warning from OSHA regarding risks associated with wearing face coverings for a certain period of time, or on their impact on oxygen and CO2 levels.

A spokesperson for the Department of Labor told Reuters that OSHA “has made no determination regarding face-mask impact on oxygen levels.”

According to its website, OSHA “generally recommends that employers encourage workers to wear face coverings at work” in accordance with the CDC guidelines.

Guidance on OSHA’s website adds: “Face coverings are intended to prevent wearers who have Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) without knowing it (i.e., those who are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic) from spreading potentially infectious respiratory droplets to others.”

OSHA advises that face-coverings “may be used by almost any worker” but not by those who have trouble breathing or are unable to put on or remove a mask without assistance — in line with CDC guidance.

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