Client Alert: There May be Exceptions to the Mask Requirement
By Stephen P. Bond on April 30, 2020
In the topsy turvy world of employee face masks, this morning the State of Ohio once again revised its internet postings, specifically now allowing room for exceptions to the face mask requirement. At this point, all three of the categories of business now approved for reopening (i.e., “Manufacturing, Distribution & Construction,” “Consumer, Retail & Services,” and “General Office Environments”) will be subject to this revised version of the face mask rule:
Face coverings are required while employers and employees are on the job, unless any one of the following apply:
- An employee in a particular position is prohibited by a law or regulation from wearing a face covering while on the job;
- A face covering is not advisable for health purposes;
- Wearing a face covering on the job is against documented industry best practices;
- Wearing a face covering violates a company’s safety policies;
- There is a practical reason a face covering cannot be worn; or
- An employee is sitting alone in an enclosed work-space.
NOTE, however, that, to claim one of these exceptions for your business or one of your employees, the business must be able to produce “written justification” upon request – presumably at the request of a Health Department inspector or a police officer. In order to be prepared for that eventuality, an employer intending to assert one or more of the exceptions should, therefore, have thought through the rationale for it, and assembled any supporting documentation for it, in advance, and have it on file before an inspector arrives on the scene.Finally, for all categories of business, the State has settled on the following rule for customers: “Customers and guests should wear a face covering. They are not required to wear a face covering.” This reflects the Governor’s current position that, although the State is not insisting on customer masks, businesses themselves remain free to do so.