By Grace Hancock
COVID-19 is still at the top of everyone’s minds even after nearly two years. For many Americans, reminders like “wear a mask,” and “practice social distancing” might as well be white noise. By now we have all likely heard and/or seen one version or another of the CDC’s guidelines on how to protect against the coronavirus. There are constant reminders everywhere to “avoid large crowds” and to “keep 6 feet away from others”. If you work outside of the home, then you know you aren’t always able to practice these safety precautions.
If this is you, then you may be wondering how you can protect yourself and others from the coronavirus. Our team at Hancock Injury Attorneys values your safety and well-being. We also understand that not everyone has the luxury of working remotely. Thus, we want to let you know how you can keep yourself and others safe throughout these unprecedented times. Here are five important safety tips to help you stay safe in the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Make sure that your choice of face mask is both effective and well-fitted
Not all types of face coverings are effective at protecting against the coronavirus. Lab testing conducted by CBS News Marketplace with the help of the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana school of public health uncovered which types of face masks and coverings are most effective at protecting against COVID-19 and which are not. The testing revealed that face coverings made of single-layered fabric, fabric with a low thread count, or made of loose-knit fabric allow coronavirus particles to pass through and into the mouth and nose of the face-covering wearer.
The testing also found that valve masks do a poor job at filtering particles. Valve masks may even be contributing to the spread of the coronavirus. Surgical face masks and fabric face coverings and masks that were multi-layered made with a tightly knit fabric, and/or made with fabric with a high thread count were shown to perform most effectively at protecting against the transmission of coronavirus particles.
It won’t matter how effective your face mask is at protecting you against COVID-19 if your mask is not well-fitted. Coronavirus particles can get around a mask that is not well-fitted to the face and infect individuals. Yet, a loose mask is better than no mask at all. CBS News hypothesizes that even a loose mask can lessen the number of coronavirus particles entering an individual’s system, leading to milder symptoms.
2. Wash and/or sanitize your hands
When you’re at work, you may not always have ready access to a bathroom to wash your hands. Consider purchasing hand sanitizer to put on your desk or even in your pocket that you can use at your convenience. The CDC recommends that you choose a hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol.
3. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects in your workspace
Frequently touched surfaces and objects in the workplace could include workstations, telephones, keyboards, doorknobs, and handrails. While you may be able to socially distance yourself from your coworkers by being in your own office or cubicle, many times you share office materials. Take for example a shared copy machine, while you may be the only one using it at certain times, imagine how many people before you have touched it. Talk to your workplace about instituting a policy to disinfect after each use if such a policy is not already in place.
4. Practice social distancing
You might find that you are not always able to stay 6 feet apart from others at your work. In situations where you are unable to keep a 6 feet distance between yourself and others, then maintain as much of distance as possible. If you find, for example, that your workplaces are too close together in your office or that there aren’t proper safety precautions in place at a retail store or a restaurant that keeps you a safe distance from customers, then talk to your employer.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published an alert containing steps that employers can take to help implement social distancing in the workplace; such as staggering breaks and rearranging seating in common break areas to maintain physical distance between workers; or moving or repositioning workstations to create more distance. Your employer may be able to put in place these guidelines in your workplace.
5. Remind your fellow co-workers to follow CDC guidelines
You can only do so much to keep yourself and others safe from coronavirus. A fellow co-worker who doesn’t wear a face mask or practice social distancing while in the workplace puts not only themselves in danger, but also you, your other co-workers, and any clients or customers that might come into contact with that co-worker. Politely correct a co-working if you see them not adhering to health and safety guidelines.
Legal Work Rights About COVID-19
If you are concerned about facing retaliation from your employer: such as the denial of benefits, intimidation or harassment, or being fired or laid off, for raising health and safety concerns related to COVID-19 in your workplace, know that such retaliation is prohibited under OSHA. You can file a claim with OSHA if you face retaliation from your employer for asking for protections against the coronavirus in the workplace.
Committed to Safety Against COVID-19
Hancock Injury Attorneys is dedicated to keeping its employees and others safe as we ride out the COVID-19 pandemic. While we won’t be able to represent you in a COVID-19-related claim, we may be able to recommend you to a lawyer who can. Contact us online or call us at (813) 901-1110 for any further questions.