Heat stress and facemasks


Can wearing a facemask while working in hot weather cause me to overheat?

No. A face covering alone will not cause a person to overheat. Studies have shown that filtering facepiece respirators, such as an N95, do not cause additional physiological stress to most wearers and do not contribute to heat stress.

Can a face shield substitute for a face covering for heat-exposed workers?

No. Face shields are not a substitute for face coverings because they do not contain the respiratory secretions of the wearer.

Can I lower my mask below the chin occasionally throughout the day while working in a hot environment?

Yes. Personnel that are required to wear a face covering may lower their masks while working alone and during cool-down breaks, as long as a 6-foot distance from other people is maintained.

At what temperature is it appropriate to remove face coverings and masks when exposed to the hazard of heat stress?

It is not appropriate to remove a face covering when it is required based on the temperature. Removing facial coverings is not an effective way of reducing body temperature.

What can I do to avoid heat-related illnesses?

University personnel working in hot environments must take necessary precautions, including drinking plenty of water, taking frequent breaks in a cool area, and scheduling work during cooler parts of the day.

Refer to the Outdoor Heat Exposure webpage for more information.

Where can I get more information?

Visit the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) website for more information about heat stress and face coverings.