Blue Shield of California
COVID-19 Resource Center for Employers, Plan Sponsors, Brokers and Consultants

Small Businesses

August 28, 2020 - 4 min read

Safety tips for small business owners

How masks can help make your workplace safer for employees.


As California continues to address surges in coronavirus cases, it is important to review your ongoing efforts in maintaining a safe, healthy workplace. Along with strategies for employee temperature screening, physical distancing, and modified work hours, consider the following tips to promote mask-wearing.

Give employees the facts

In July, medical experts at The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised all Americans to wear masks to prevent the spread of SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. It’s important to make employees aware that masks are a key component in ensuring the health and safety of everyone in the workplace. The California Department of Public Health provides guidance on the use of face coverings and when they are required.  

Establish a policy

Take steps to develop policies that support wearing a mask and provide clear guidelines as to which masks are acceptable and what qualifies as an appropriate face covering. Communicate the policy through multiple channels: email to all employees and post in common work areas.

Provide masks if possible

If your budget allows for it, consider providing disposable masks to your employees. Also, encourage those who have their own supply of masks at home to bring them to the workplace.

Worker in mask and gloves handing customer a coffee cup and paper bag.

Facing resistance? Find out why.

To build trust and maintain harmony in the workplace, it’s helpful to engage in a respectful dialogue with individuals who view wearing a mask as an infringement on their individual liberties.

If an employee refuses to wear a mask while at work for reasons unrelated to underlying medical conditions, explore the possibility of having them work remotely for an extended period if their role allows for it.

Wearing masks away from the workplace

Recommending that employees wear their masks when they’re away from the workplace is also important. This is especially important for employees who have family members with serious underlying medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or high blood pressure.

Enforce California workplace health and safety rules

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has issued guidelines for businesses to help slow the spread of COVID-19 across California. Following the guidance provided by state and local officials will be critical to making your workplace safe and healthy for your employees and customers.

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