COVID-19 numbers continue to fluctuate from day to day and region to region, even as the virus is well into its ninth month in the United States and around the world. Stepping outside your protective bubble and going back to work can be a scary proposition.
But you have a right to expect that your work environment will not put you in harm’s way. There are steps your employer must take to protect you and your colleagues and prevent themselves from being negligent. So, don’t hesitate to ask what steps are in place for your safety on the job.
Here are some questions you might want to ask:
“Are we practicing social distancing?”
COVID-19 is primarily transmitted via person-to-person contact, so social distancing is one of the most effective ways to limit its spread. As you’re likely well aware, guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) set social distancing limits between people at six feet. This could mean physically moving desks or workstations, operating at reduced capacity, or staggering shifts in the workplace.
“What other precautions are in place?”
In addition to social distancing, physical barriers such as plastic dividers provide an additional line of defense against coronavirus. Also, frequently touched surfaces and communal areas should be disinfected often. Think phones, keyboards, door handles, light switches, faucets, and the like.
“Will PPE be provided?”
The most common form of personal protective equipment (PPE) against COVID-19 is face masks. If your job puts you in regular contact with customers, vendors, or others outside your bubble. PPE is critical. Ask what your employer would do if someone refused to comply.
- Hand sanitizer and antiseptic wipes should also be readily available.
- If your employer is not providing adequate PPE, express your concerns.
“What if someone here has COVID-19 symptoms?”
Many companies screen employees and visitors before entering the building, using temperature checks, questionnaires about symptoms or possible coronavirus exposure, or both. Anyone with symptoms should be sent home. If someone falls ill, the CDC recommends staying home until at least three days after their symptoms subside and at least ten days after they first appeared. Anyone who has been in close contact with an infected person should stay home for 14 days.
“Can I continue to work remotely?”
Suppose you have a pre-existing condition that increases your risk of contracting COVID-19, or it is your personal preference. In that case, it’s important to ask if you can continue to work remotely even after your employer calls you back.
- A number of pre-existing conditions are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). To deny your teleworking request, your employer would have to demonstrate that it is essential that you come in to do your job. It’s a case-by-case determination.
Do you have additional questions about your workplace environment or career challenges in the face or coronavirus? PrideStaff Fresno is here to help, so read our related posts or contact us today for more information. And most importantly, stay safe and healthy!