Wearing a face covering is optional in most circumstances and is generally not required in workplaces. They are not an effective way to manage the risks from coronavirus and you should not rely on them.
The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected and have not developed symptoms.
Face coverings are not classed as PPE. They:
- are not manufactured to a recognised standard and not CE marked
- do not provide a proven level of protection for work risks such as dust and spray
If people choose to wear face coverings in work you should support them.
You should manage the risk of COVID infection by:
- social distancing or, where that is not possible, reducing the number of people in the work area
- assigning and keeping people to shift teams
- increasing hand and surface washing
You can find specific guidance on working safely during the coronavirus outbreak.
There is more advice on face coverings on GOV.UK.
Surgical face masks
Surgical face masks are designed to be normally worn in medical settings to limit the spread of infection. Wearing them should be very limited outside of healthcare activities because they are not generally considered to be PPE in non-healthcare situations.
Unlike face coverings, they:
- are manufactured to a recognised standard
- are resistant to droplets of fluids and splashes