Coworkers Can Protect Each Other By Wearing Cloth Masks On The Job

Since many Local 24 members continue to report to work on job sites throughout our jurisdiction, our priority is to share any information that will help keep everyone safe and healthy.

The University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB) has just published a policy regarding the use of cloth masks on construction projects, which emphasizes that the cloth masks are an effective way to prevent workers from spreading Covid-19 to their coworkers. Local 24 Business Manager Pete Demchuk has asked the MD NECA chapter to share the policy with all of our signatory contractors, and he is encouraging all our members to wear a cloth mask in situations where social distancing is not possible. The video posted above provides directions to quickly make an easy, no-sew mask using an old t-shirt and 2 rubber bands.

The following are excerpts from UMB’s memo:

On April 3, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a
voluntary Recommendation Regarding the Use of Cloth Face Coverings, Especially in Areas of
Significant Community-Based Transmission. CDC “recommends wearing cloth face coverings in
public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery
stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”

CDC emphasizes that the use of cloth face coverings complements existing guidelines and does
NOT change the need to follow social distancing and hand-washing guidance. As such, the
University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) is adopting the CDC recommendation into its COVID-19
Social Distancing Guidelines.

For situations where it is NOT feasible to maintain at least 6 feet of social distancing, cloth face
coverings should be worn.

Cloth face coverings are NOT intended to protect the individual wearing
the cover and should not be considered personal protective equipment (PPE). Instead, cloth face
coverings are intended to reduce the spread of the virus from people who may be carrying the
virus but are not currently exhibiting symptoms. Therefore, cloth face coverings are intended ONLY
to prevent a person carrying the disease from spreading the virus to otherpeople when interacting
in close proximity (e.g., speaking, coughing, or sneezing).

Contractors working on campus should issue similar guidance about cloth face coverings to their
employees when social distancing is not feasible, and contractors should make efforts to ensure
employees have cloth face coverings or have the ability to make/obtain cloth face coverings.
At UMB, you should wear a cloth face covering when performing all construction activity for which
social distancing cannot be maintained. Examples include:

  • Work activities that require two or more people to complete for which they must come
    within 6 feet of contact to perform the task
  • Interactions with customers in which social distancing is not feasible
  • Using public transportation to get to work

CDC advises that surgical masks, N95s, and KN95s are critical supplies that must continue to be
reserved for health care workers and other medical first responders.