(This updates an article originally posted on April 6, 2020.)
The COVID-19 pandemic has put us in a stressful, even frightening time. Many helpful Americans, including at least one involved with our firm, have been pitching in by making home-made face masks. We certainly don't want to discourage such activity.
But the fact is that ours is a litigious society, and not even Good Samaritans are immune from liability risk. So we have developed a disclaimer for our own mask makers that you might consider using in a form adapted to your needs. This could go on a slip of paper that is delivered along with the mask(s) that you or your group produce.
The disclaimer we developed included this content:
A MESSAGE FROM YOUR FACE MASK MAKERS
These face masks were made by an informal network of citizens in _____________________, ________________. We have come together to make these face masks with our own hands from donated materials. Our aim is to make face masks that may help protect health care workers and our fellow citizens during these stressful times. We make the masks of cotton or cotton blends, because we understand (from recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control) that cotton material balances protection and the ability to breathe.
If used appropriately, the masks may capture many (by no means all) bacterial and virus particles so that you won’t breathe them in. However, some particles, such as COVID-19 virus particles, are so tiny that they may not be captured.
WE ARE NOT PROFESSIONAL FACE MASK DESIGNERS OR MAKERS. WE CANNOT AND DO NOT IN ANY WAY WHATSOEVER PROMISE OR GUARANTEE THAT THE FACE MASKS WILL WORK FOR THE INTENDED PURPOSE. THE MATERIALS USED ARE NOT FOOLPROOF AGAINST ALL PARTICLES. FOR EXAMPLE, THEY MAY NOT CAPTURE OR PREVENT INTAKE OF COVID-19 VIRUS PARTICLES. IN USING THE MASK, YOU UNDERSTAND THAT YOU DO SO 100% AT YOUR OWN RISK.
ALSO, YOU ARE COMPLETELY RESPONSIBLE FOR USING THEM CORRECTLY! However, we do suggest that you:
Wash your mask BEFORE use
Try to avoid touching the inside or outside of the mask fabric; handle the mask by the straps
Wash again after each wearing (In delicate cycle, or in a mesh washing bag)
If your mask has an opening for a filter, you are wholly responsible for determining what filter to use, if any (note: some HEPA vacuum cleaner bags contain fiberglass!)
If you do add a filter, change it after each use
The CDC website provides information on making, wearing and caring for face masks here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html
This DIY site includes helpful mask making instructions and related tips: DIY Face Mask
Now for our own disclaimer. The above content is provided by our firm for potential use in the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Georgia and Tennessee as a public service and is free of charge. We do not intend to establish an attorney-client relationship with anyone who chooses to use the form. We do not promise that use of the content, including its disclaimer language, will protect the user from litigation or from legal liability. Anyone using the above language does so at his/her/its own risk.
If you are making masks: thank you! To everyone: Stay Safe!