Use of Masks: Surgical and N95

There have been many questions recently about the use and wearing of masks while at work.  There is no dispute that an employee can wear a mask at work if they choose to do so. A concern was brought to me in regards to the “N95” masks. The Postal Service, like many other agencies has run into a shortage of the N95 masks.  As such, the determination was made that they would issue surgical masks.  Surgical masks provide barrier protection against droplets including large respiratory particles.  Employees should be able to get surgical masks from their supervisors and managers.  The Post Office reports that Topeka has them in stock and they are available for order.  Two other things that all should be aware of:

  1. The Post Office says that in offices where they do not have surgical masks, but they do have N95 masks—they will issue the N95 masks.  Once they get surgical masks you can expect them to discontinue issuing the N95 and begin issuing the surgical masks.
  2. The Post Office has stated that an employee can wear an N95 mask that they procured on their own as long as they do so consistent with the management instruction previously sent out.

As always, this is a fluid situation.  Please continue to stay alert and vigilant.  Please disseminate.

Vance Zimmerman
Industrial Relations Director