The CNESST also recommends more frequent breaks during heat waves.

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La Presse Canadienne

A security guard directs a tractor to a job site in Nuns' Island, in Montreal on May 11, 2020.
A security guard directs a tractor to a job site in Nuns’ Island, in Montreal on May 11, 2020. Photo by John Mahoney /Montreal Gazette

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Face masks to protect agains COVID-19 infection can be removed at outdoor work sites — even when physical distancing cannot be ensured — during periods of extreme heat, Quebec’s work health safety board (CNESST) has ruled.

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The exemption is temporary and will apply only when an extreme heat warning is issued by Environment Canada. It ends once the temperature drops below 30 degrees celsius.

“Because of periods of summer heat waves and the risks linked to excessive heat, we have taken the decision, in collaboration with the the CNESST and public health authorities, to tolerate the absence of (masks) on work sites,” Quebec labour minister Jean Boulet said in a communiqué posted Monday.

The work safety board defines the masks covered by the exception as medical masks, a mask certified by the Bureau de normalisation or a respiratory protection device equipped with a particle filter.

The CNESST notes also that it is recommended during heat waves to allow more frequent work breaks and to ensure areas and means to allow workers to cool down.

Monday’s announcement does not apply to the wearing to protective masks for reasons other than COVID-19, such as the handling of asbestos or silica. The usage of this equipment remains mandatory.

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