Face coverings at UB

Published April 13, 2020


To all employees from Mark Coldren, Associate Vice President, Human Resources

In accordance with the recent Executive Order issued by Governor Cuomo (4/12/20) and guidance provided by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) regarding the voluntary use of face coverings, UB intends to supply our essential employees with suitable face covering materials for use in the workplace.  As was shared previously, we are working to have these materials to be distributed with area supervisors as soon as they are sourced and available.

It is important to note that the use of a face covering is notintended to protect the wearer from exposure to the virus.  Face coverings are a physical barrier intended to stop the spread of respiratory droplets from the wearer into the environment.  While proper social distancing protocols are the best method against transmission, the use of face coverings is an important tool to help prevent the spread of the virus because individuals can be contagious before they develop symptoms of the viral infection, or may not be aware they are infectious.  Higher levels of respiratory protection (N95 masks or other filtering-type respirators) are in short supply and are being reserved for use by medical professionals and first responders.  NYS and the CDC is notrecommending these types of respirators for general use face coverings in the workplace or in public settings.

Essential employees are now required to wear a face covering only in situations where they are interacting with a customer, or where they are unable to maintain proper social distancing.  For other job activities where essential workers are able to properly social distance, the face coverings being supplied are for voluntary use.  Supplies of manufactured surgical masks may be prioritized for use by customer interacting personnel. 

The face covering being supplied to employees may vary depending on what is readily available.  Options supplied may include: 

  1. level 1 surgical mask
  2. homemade cloth masks
  3. manufactured cloth mask
  4. scarf

*The CDC provides guidance for those wishing to make their own face covering https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

Some work activities require the use of a higher level of respiratory protection. If an individual is performing a work activity which they believe may require additional respiratory protection, they should contact their supervisor for guidance. Supervisors may consult with EH&S to determine the most appropriate respiratory protection for such activities. 

For additional information University Facilities has created a helpful video for essential employees: (UBITName and password required) https://buffalo.box.com/s/4f1nj7s9x5s141mib6928ypi6r0irq2p

We know that these are challenging and fluid times. Please know that everyone’s health and safety is our top priority.  Thank you for your continued support and cooperation to help us conserve higher levels of respiratory protection for medical professionals and first responders. This guideline is designed to be consistent with local, state, SUNY and federal guidelines so we can continue to protect the well-being of the entire campus community. Again, many thanks to all of our essential colleagues for all that they are doing for our campus community.