By: Michelle D. Patrick, Esq.
As businesses across the country start to re-open, it is time for many of us to return to the workplace. However the workplace we are used to is not, and should not be, the workplace to which we return. It is clear that the coronavirus is not going away anytime soon and experts are recommending that employers implement measures to protect their employees and customers. Examples of protective measures include employees wearing protective equipment and practicing social distancing. What if your employer is not taking any precautions? Do you have any rights?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created to, among other things, protect the health and safety of employees in the workplace. During the current pandemic, OSHA’s work has become more important than ever. OSHA’s current guidance divides employees into four categories: low exposure risk, medium exposure risk, high exposure risk and very high exposure risk. OSHA recommends various protective measures depending on what category an employee falls under. For example, OSHA classifies an employee whose work requires “multiple contacts with the public,” such as a grocery store employee, as medium exposure risk. OSHA recommends that employers implement things such as: installing physical barriers between employees and the public, providing face masks for employees and limiting the public’s access to employees by offering alternatives such as drive-through’s or curb side pickup.
OSHA has also issued alerts for employees and employers in specific industries including, but not limited to, healthcare, manufacturing, airlines, correctional facilities, dentistry, and retail, which help to provide additional guidance.
If you feel that your workplace is not safe, then you need to inform you employer in writing as to why you feel it is unsafe. Employers must be given the chance to address and, hopefully, remedy the situation. If they refuse to do the right thing then you have the right to file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
You should consult an attorney to help you determine what category of risk you fall into and what your next steps should be. The attorneys at the The Ezold Law Firm are experienced employment attorneys who are here to assist you.