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[L&I] Requirements for workers who cannot wear masks
What are the requirements for workers with medical and disability issues that prevent the use of a cloth face covering or mask?
The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries has released clarity and guidance on approved alternative accommodations for employees who are unable, due to medical or disability issues, to safely wear cloth face coverings. According to L&I, a plastic face shield alone does not prevent the spread of coronavirus. Employees with medical exemptions from wearing a mask must provide their employer with a statement from a medical professional specifying that a face covering or mask should not be worn due to a present health condition. Employers cannot allow employees to work without a mask with no other accommodations.
According to L&I, employers should assess any negative impacts that face coverings might have on employees with disabilities and make accommodations per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For example, workers communicating with people who are deaf or hard of hearing may need to temporarily unmask while staying at least 6 feet away or behind a physical barrier or wear an approved face shield closed with fabric around the contour of the face and neck in order to allow for lip reading.