Many Americans found themselves out of a job this past spring amidst the coronavirus crisis. As of April, one in four small businesses had temporarily closed their doors due to stay-at-home orders, and over 42.6 billion American workers filed for unemployment during the crisis.
As businesses begin to open back up, both employers and employees need to take caution. Not all work can be done remotely, and many employees will return to jobs around other team members and the public. The threat of COVID-19 is still prevalent, and safety measures are critical as we return to work.
Taking the extra steps to stay safe is especially important for older workers. The CDC reports that older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19.
Balancing the need to go back to work and stay safe during the pandemic can be tough. Here are five tips to help you return to work safely.
Tips to stay safe when returning to work
You need to get back to work, but you’re worried about the current crisis. It’s important to follow precautions to keep yourself and loved ones safe. Here are some things you can do to protect yourself when going back to work or getting hired during the pandemic.
Understand your employer’s rules and procedures
Employers are expected to take extra measures for safety. It’s important for you to understand any new rules and procedures so that you can follow them and encourage others to do so. Read all communications your employer sends out and listen to their guidance.
If you are unsure about any of the procedures, ask your employer for clarification. These times are uncertain for everyone, so making sure all team members are on the same page is critical.
Wash your hands frequently
We’ve heard it over and over throughout the pandemic – and it’s still just as important. Washing your hands is key to staying safe. Since COVID-19 can be spread through direct contact, using antibacterial soap and hand sanitizer will help reduce your risk.
Wash your hands before breaks and especially before eating. You should also wash your hands after your shift. When you return home, take a shower and change into clean clothes.
Wear a mask
Many employers are requiring employees to wear a mask in the workplace. This is with good reason.
The virus can be spread when infected respiratory droplets from a cough, a sneeze, talking, laughing, singing, or breathing fall to surfaces that are then touched by another person. It can also be spread when smaller infected droplets, called aerosols, stay suspended in the air for several minutes and are inhaled or ingested by others.
A mask can protect you from inhaling tiny but dangerous droplets that are too small to see. If your employer provides you with a protective barrier, such as a plastic shield between the cash register and customers, be sure to stand behind it.
Use sanitizers on frequently touched surfaces to disinfect your workplace. This could include countertops, credit card readers, door handles, and shopping carts.
It’s also a good idea to provide hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes for customers to use as they visit your business.
If you feel sick, stay home
If you’ve been out of work for a while, you might be eager to return to your job. But if you’re not feeling well, the risk outweighs reward during the current situation. Stay home if you are feeling sick.
Follow sick day procedures at your workplace, and be sure to let your employer know that you are unable to come into work. More than likely, they will be understanding of the situation and not want you to come into the workplace if you’re ill.
Staying safe and going back to work
As the economy begins to open back up, we are all working together to stop the spread. The small steps that each of us take are contributing to the larger goal of making it to the other side of the pandemic.
Remember the basic fundamentals of basic hygiene and listen to your employer. Try to stay positive and know that the current situation is not forever, and we will get through it together.
Are you an older adult looking to re-enter the workforce? VANTAGE Workforce Solutions provides paid, hands-on training to people 55 and older in 38 Ohio counties. Training opportunities are safe and provide you with a pathway to your next career. Apply online now.
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