Many people have recently made adjustments in how they work. To help flatten the curve, you may have found yourself working remotely from home, or perhaps your place of employment closed altogether. Or if your job was deemed essential, you may need to now follow new procedures to keep your workplace safe.
All these changes may have you feeling stressed and anxious. You may also be worried about your health and safety while on the job. To help ease your concerns, you can take steps to make your work environment safer for you and your colleagues.
Practice Healthy Habits to Prevent Infection
All the safety measures you take every day at home and in public can also keep you and others safe at work. While in the workplace, continue to follow these healthy habits and encourage your coworkers to do the same:
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Clean and disinfect your desk or work area regularly
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue, or your elbow if you don’t have tissues
- Don’t share workstations, phones or tools
- Stay away from people who are sick
- Stay home if you or a loved one is sick
- Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
Practicing social distancing and wearing a mask or cloth face covering can also help keep your office, job site or other place of employment safe. These measures can lower your risk for contracting COVID-19. Health experts like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) think coronavirus mostly spreads through close contact with other people when they cough, sneeze or talk.
To practice social distancing on the job, follow these tips:
- Adjust your work hours, if possible
- Hold virtual meetings
- Skip the handshake
- Stay 6 feet apart from colleagues at all times
Advocating for Safety Changes, if Needed
The CDC and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have issued guidelines for employers and businesses on how best to plan and manage day-to-day operations. Your employer may be putting some of these precautions in place depending on how likely it is that you and other workers may be exposed to coronavirus. Some of these measures may include:
- Asking employees to wash their hands before they enter the workplace
- Encouraging employees to stay home if they feel sick
- Installing physical barriers like sneeze guards
- Limiting nonessential travel
- Providing tissues and hand sanitizer
- Staggering work shifts to help with social distancing
If you think your employer may not be doing enough to prevent the spread of coronavirus in your workplace, talk with your manager. Or reach out to your company’s human resources department. Under federal law, you have a right to a safe work environment.
To better communicate your concerns, first do some research. Check the CDC and OSHA websites. There you can see what safety measures are being advised for employees in industries like construction, retail and manufacturing.
When talking about your concerns, speak in a calm voice. Be as clear as possible and provide specific examples. Stay focused on solving the problem rather than proving anything right or wrong.
If after talking with your employer you are still concerned about your health on the job, you can file a complaint with OSHA. Know that you can choose to make your complaint confidential. You are also protected from retaliation by your employer.
Other Employee Rights
If you’re at a high risk for severe illness from coronavirus or have a disability, your employer may be required to provide you with reasonable accommodations due to coronavirus. This includes working remote or telecommuting. Find more detailed information about such accommodations here.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act has expanded family and medical leave rights for reasons related to coronavirus. If you do need to take time off work, find out what type of leave is now available to you and whether the act covers you.
We’re Ready When You’re Ready
AdventHealth is committed to providing the latest information to keep you and your family healthy. To learn more about new safety measures we’re using to keep you safe, visit AdventHealth.com.