Since its initial outbreak in late 2019, COVID-19 has upended the daily lives of millions of people across the world. In the new world of social distancing, surface disinfecting, and mask-wearing, it can be hard to know exactly what to expect on the rare occasions where social interaction becomes necessary.
What happens, for example, if you need an emergency repair done in your home that’s beyond the expertise of an experienced DIYer? How far are you allowed to go to keep you and your family safe? And what safety measures can you require from the people coming into your home?
Can You Ask Contractors to Wear a Mask?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you can (and should) ask any service provider entering your home to wear a mask. The best way to make that clear is to wear one yourself when answering the door to let them in. The CDC recommends that you avoid any greeting that requires physical contact, such as a handshake, and have “clean, spare masks” on hand in case they don’t have masks (or if the ones they brought are in bad condition).
Are Masks Required By Law?
While it is widely acknowledged among the medical community that masks and other preventative measures help slow the spread of the coronavirus, mask wearing itself is not required by law. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), it is ultimately up to the employer to decide the safety measures taken by their employees.
“Employers should assess the hazards to which their workers may be exposed; evaluate the risk of exposure; and select, implement, and ensure workers use controls to prevent exposure,” reads OSHA’s guidance on the subject.
OSHA’s guidelines are mainly focused on keeping workers safe and pay less attention to protecting customers. They are also just recommendations.
“This guidance is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations,” reads the top of OSHA’s guidelines on in-home repair services.
What To Do if Someone Refuses To Wear a Mask
You can’t just call the cops on someone for not wearing a mask. What you can do is appeal to their sense of common respect. If you politely and calmly ask someone to put on a mask, it’s likely that they will agree out of a general sense of decency.
But if they refuse to put on a mask, it’s within your rights to deny them entry to your home and call their employer. Calmly inform the employer that their worker is declining to comply with your personal safety requirements. That shifts the responsibility to resolve the situation and enforce safety regulations back on the employer — or risk losing your business.