In an effort to control the spread of coronavirus, governors across the country issued shelter-in-place orders for their communities. As workers return to their jobs after months of quarantine, many expect to find increased safety and prevention measures to keep them safe.
To help companies design these new rules and processes, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) released a five recommendations for a safe and just return to work.
5 National COSH recommendations
The National COSH is a federation of worker’s rights organizations across the country dedicated to “promoting safe and healthy conditions for all working people.” National COSH also organizes the Protecting Workers Alliance, a community of over 3000 trainers, industrial hygienists and public health professionals.
Business owners looking for answers can find the National COSH recommendations fully detailed in the “A Safe and Just Return to Work” packet:
- Health and safety protections: These rules include new safety measures that focus on eliminating hazards rather than working around them. Businesses should also have a written Infectious Disease Preparedness, Response and Control Plan designed with input from employees. National COSH also recommends encouraging and supporting whistleblowers.
- Robust screening and tracking systems: National COSH recommends companies grant workers free access to virus testing and support community-backed initiatives for contact tracing.
- Job protections: These rules outline worker protections, including guaranteed paid leave, a right to quarantine without losing one’s job and healthcare benefits for all workers, including access to mental health.
- Worker inclusion in the planning process: National COSH recommends including union representatives for task forces that develop back-to-work plans.
- Measures to ensure equity: To better equip workers with resources that can help endure a pandemic, employers should pay employees a “living wage” to sustain healthier living spaces. Employers should examine how they classify employees as well — National COSH argues that too many independent contractors endure unjustly without benefits.
Seek legal counsel
Business owners who take returning to work seriously can reach out to a local attorney familiar with worker’s compensation law for counsel. A lawyer can advise on the legality of new rules and help identify blind spots before they become a liability.