Can Safety Regulations Fully Protect Workers From Viruses?
Are current safety regulations sufficient to protect workers against contracting viruses such as COVID-19? It is a topic that is going to get significant attention in the coming weeks, months, and years. For now, workers need to take precautions to protect themselves. While the risk of suffering serious complications from COVID-19 are small, it is significant for those with health conditions such as COPD, emphysema, cancer, HIV/AIDS, asthma, heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions. Safety regulations will most certainly evolve to address this new, novel coronavirus, and others in the future.
For now, employees and their employers need to be proactive in their approach. As of March 23, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported that there were more than 600 cases in Colorado. There is absolutely no need to panic, merely take prudent steps, including:
1. Stay abreast of the news. Governor Polis has not initiated a formal order to “shelter in place.” However, governments in California, New York, Washington, and other states have taken this step. Likewise, many European and Asian governments have put their countries under strict quarantines. For now, Coloradoan’s are being asked to sequester themselves at home voluntarily. If at all possible, employers should allow their employees to work from home during this time.
2. Wear gloves when handling cash and inventory. If you work in retail, wear gloves to avoid touching cash and other potentially contaminated surfaces.
3. Wash your hands. Employers should ensure that there are sufficient soap supplies in bathrooms and kitchen spaces. Employees should wash their hands regularly and avoid touching their faces.
4. Self-monitor for symptoms. If you exhibit any symptoms associated with COVID-19, it is advisable to stay home and call in sick. These include fevers, coughs, sore throats, persistent headaches, digestive problems, and difficulty breathing.
5. Protect your health. Eat healthily, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and give up habits such as smoking that weaken your immune system. This is good advice even when a pandemic isn’t rolling across the plains.
6. Keep your distance. Avoid public gatherings, meeting with friends, or visiting immunocompromised relatives. Make a phone call instead. While you can go outside and enjoy the fresh spring air, be sure to avoid crowds and take sanitizer to wash your hands.
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