Late Tuesday, April 21, 2020, Connecticut updated its Safe Workplace Rules for Essential Employers yet again, tweaking the rules on masks in the workplace that had been put in place just days earlier.
The modifications by the Department of Economic and Community Development ("DECD") reduce the need for employees to wear a mask or face covering at all times in the workplace.
Rather, effective immediately, in workplace settings where employees are working alone in segregated spaces such as cubicles with walls and private offices, employees may remove their masks.
When do workers still need to wear masks?
According to the DECD, masks must be worn by employees "from the time they enter the building until the time they arrive at their cubicle/work station and at any time they are leaving their work station and moving around common areas (i.e. in hallways and stairwells, going to the restroom or break room, etc.)."
For employees working in open manufacturing floors, warehouses, areas open to the public, shared offices, or similar settings, the exception does not apply. Those workers will still need to wear a mask at all times, including when they are at their work station.
The DECD also provided an important clarification for those working outside. "Continuous wearing of masks is not required in outdoor workspaces where employees do not regularly come within six feet of other employees."
Employers should obviously update their policies and practices to address this new rule.
At the same time, employers should use this occasion to revisit all of the rules set forth by the DECD. While some appear to be mandatory, and others merely suggestive, all the rules should be followed to the extent possible.
Non-essential employers that still have staff on-site to collect mail, or do security or other essential functions, should also be sure to follow these safe workplace rules as well.
Originally Published 22 April, 2020
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