As businesses try to navigate these uncertain times and provide a safe work environment, many states are still showing increases in COVID-19 cases. For states where cases are either declining or holding steady, workers are returning to work under stricter safety protocols.
Employers are also scrambling to keep up with customer demand and provide their workers with a safe workplace. All states have specific requirements employers need to follow and while most are adhering to these standards, many are not.
900 COVID-19 Complaints Filed Since May
A recent article on MassLive revealed there were as many as 900 formal complaints filed against Massachusetts businesses since May from workers about alleged failures to adequately protect them from COVID-19 risks.
Many of the complaints were due to failure to allow for enough social distancing and a lack of cleaning and disinfection. While other complaints were for employers allegedly requiring those with COVID-19 symptoms to come into work.
It was also reported that OSHA has closed more than 500 coronavirus-related complaints in Massachusetts this year.
While no fines have yet to be enforced upon these businesses, several have been ordered to shut down immediately for cleaning and sanitation, and dozens of cease-and-desist letters have been sent to companies allegedly in violation of COVID-19.
Filing a Complaint
Due to the number of complaints, Massachusetts has provided a complaint form on Mass.gov that can be completed anonymously.
The types of hazard people can file a complaint about include:
- Failure to display Compliance Attestation poster
- Personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Requiring symptomatic employees to work
- Social distancing
What Employers Must Do to Keep Employees Safe at Work
Many states have established safety standards for businesses to follow while they continue to reopen and need to follow in order to remain open. They are designed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission to employees and customers.
The MA Department of Public Health (DPH) and the COVID-19 Command Center, note the following required safety standards:
- Social Distancing
Whenever possible, all persons, including employees, customers, and vendors should remain at least six feet apart, both inside and outside workplaces. Protocols should be established to ensure that employees can practice adequate social distancing. Signage needs to be provided to show steps for safe social distancing. Face coverings or masks for all employees is required.
- Hygiene Protocols
Employers need to provide handwashing capabilities throughout the workplace with supplies and make sure employees are frequently washing their hands. Also, regular sanitization of high touch areas, such as workstations, equipment, screens, doorknobs, restrooms throughout work site, needs to be implemented.
- Staffing and Operations
Employers need to provide training for employees regarding social distancing and hygiene protocols. If an employee is displaying COVID19-like symptoms, the employer should allow that person to stay home. An established plan for employees getting ill from Covid-19 at work, and a return-to-work plan, needs to be in place for employees to review.
- Cleaning and Disinfecting
Employees must establish and maintain a cleaning protocol. When an active employee is diagnosed with COVID19, cleaning, and disinfecting must be performed. Disinfection of all common surfaces must take place at intervals appropriate to the workplace and work environment.
Avoid Employee Complaints
The safety standards have put another layer of pressure on business owners and workers. No business owner wants the added expense of a potential fine or a cease-and-desist letter.
However, having a complaint filed is avoidable. Following the required standards is necessary and for those who need additional help, we offer two Safety Service Options:
COVID-19 CONSULTING BUNDLE – Written directive/policy on requirements which can be either a corporate policy or a site-specific policy.
COVID-19 TRAINING (INFECTION CONTROL WEBINAR) – We offer Open Enrollment Classes and Private Company Sponsored Classes made available at your convenience.
If you have concerns about your workforce and coronavirus, please contact us today to learn about steps you can take to protect yourself, your family, and your employees.
COVID19 TESTING – We now offer COVID-19 Testing Services For Colleges, Universities, Private Companies, And Public Agencies