COVID-19 and the Workplace
During the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, it is important to take precautionary measures and maintain safety in the workplace, wherever that might be. Essential businesses remain open, which include but are not limited to, those who provide upkeep to private residences such as sanitation and safety, as well as other essential services. With that, travel for some businesses may not be completely cut off in a given community. However, it is paramount that safety remains a priority in these situations. Employers should encourage their workers to stay home if they fall ill to prevent the spread of any illness to the rest of the business or community. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends employers operate under what is called the “hierarchy of controls.” This means, rather than having the expectation of employees avoiding a hazard, remove it from the workplace in a systematic fashion to mitigate risk.
Some important safety measures employers should follow are:
- Encouraging employees to stay home when sick
- All meetings and interactions should be done virtually or remotely
- Create an open line of communication between workers and supervisors
- Regularly communicate news and guidelines regarding COVID-19
- Train employees on how to use appropriate personal protective equipment
Employees should stay home if they feel ill and communicate with their supervisor. Particularly those who are over the age of 65 or have preexisting conditions as they are at a higher risk of becoming dangerously ill. Prioritizing the safety of employees as well as customers is something every business should strive for.
If your employer is not following the guidelines put out by the OSHA or the CDC by placing employees in unsafe and risky situations, you should speak with an attorney about your options. No one should be forced to put themselves or others at risk at any time. You are entitled to safety in your work environment and should not be placed in a situation where you could more likely contract the coronavirus unless absolutely necessary.
Additionally, you are entitled to be provided with safety equipment should your job require you to continue to work in conditions where the coronavirus is present. If an employer knowingly sends a worker into a situation where there is a higher, if not certain, risk of infection, they may be liable for any harm the worker experiences or for missed pay if they force an unpaid quarantine furlough.
If your employer knowingly places you in harm’s way, you have a right to seek counsel and potentially seek monetary compensation. Call our dedicated legal team today to explore your options and get the help you need in this difficult time.