The employment law attorneys at The Dominguez Firm want to make all essential and non-essential workers aware of their right to a safe workplace during the coronavirus pandemic. While each industry has its own set of safety regulations, the one common thread is the need to protect all workers from the threat of COVID-19 as mandated by state and federal governments.
The employment law attorneys at The Dominguez Firm are following the changing coronavirus crisis and its impact on California employees closely. Recently, Governor Newsom announced new protections to try and stem the disturbing number of COVID-19 cases and deaths among essential workers of color, especially Latino workers. Below we’ve outlined workplace COVID-19 safety guidelines across several sectors, including some that employ non-essential workers.
If you or a loved one contracted COVID-19 at your workplace and became seriously ill, don’t hesitate to call our employment law attorneys at 800-818-1818 for a free consultation today.
Safety regulations for essential workers by sector
Essential workers keep the country running during this difficult time. We’re able to obtain food, put gas in our cars and seek medical treatment thanks to their hard work. But essential workers across several sectors have been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus crisis. We’re highlighting some of them here.
Construction workers are considered essential workers in California. That classification and the unsafe working conditions they’ve had to endure have made for some negative headlines. At the beginning of this crisis, there were plenty of news stories about construction workers not being provided with clean restrooms or not having enough space to social distance. This failure to follow safety guidelines led to a rise in cases of COVID-19 among construction workers over the ensuing months.
In response, California and OSHA have paired up to implement newer, tougher rules for safety in construction zones. These include:
- Limiting the number of workers on a site by staggering shifts to allow proper social distancing.
- Providing easy access to clean restrooms and hand washing stations at all times.
- Disinfecting all deliveries before they enter the construction zone.
Construction is a dangerous and tough job on its own. Having to deal with COVID-19 due to lax safety standards and an unsafe workplace makes it doubly so.
California is the nation’s leading agricultural producer. It has seen an alarming rise in the number of agricultural workers infected with COVID-19. Many factors contribute to this including shared housing, carpooling and a lack of clean water near work areas.
In response to this problem, California has implemented new guidelines and measures to better protect agricultural workers from the coronavirus. One of the main features of the state’s new plan is the Housing for the Harvest program. Hotel rooms will be made available to agricultural workers who have tested positive or been exposed to COVID-19. This will allow them to isolate away from co-workers and family without the fear of spreading the virus to loved ones.
Other new measures include requiring employers to add bathrooms and increasing the distance between workers in the field. A checklist for agriculture employers to follow was recently updated.
Workers at meatpacking plants across the country have been ravaged by COVID-19. Like those in the agricultural sector, it’s common for meatpacking plant workers to use shared transportation to and from work. At work, the situation just gets worse. The same manufacturing designs that make meatpacking plants more efficient also make them hotbeds for coronavirus outbreaks. Assembly lines crowd workers together, and the ventilation system is set up to stop the meat from becoming contaminated, not to ensure proper ventilation for the workers.
California has implemented stricter safety regulations specifically for the protection of meatpacking workers in the last few weeks. These include partitions on the assembly lines and requiring strict adherence to 6 feet of social distancing.
The healthcare industry is at the forefront of the battle against the coronavirus. The following are just some of the guidelines for healthcare workers. There are others tailored to specific areas of healthcare, such as dentistry, dialysis centers and nursing homes.
- The CDC asks that all healthcare facilities constantly monitor their COVID-19 website for the latest information on the pandemic.
- Maintain constant and vigilant use of handwashing and disinfecting of all facilities. Also, make sure all facilities are well-ventilated.
- Have a contingency plan if employees cannot report to work either because they have COVID-19 or are caring for a family member with it.
- On that note, have a generous sick day and leave policy for employees to discourage sick employees from showing up for work.
- Provide non-emergency care through the use of remote telemedicine calls as much as possible.
- Make sure employees are trained in the proper use of all safety equipment.
- Severely limit all outside visitors. If someone must enter, make sure they are screened thoroughly for coronavirus symptoms and their temperature is taken.
- Screen all incoming patients for COVID-19, even if they are there for a different health issue.
- Separate all patients that do display COVID-19 symptoms from everyone else immediately. They should not be in the same waiting room as other patients.
Safety regulations for non-essential workers
Non-essential workers have the same right to a safe work environment as their essential counterparts. And if they are retaliated against for reporting unsafe work conditions, they can also file a claim for retaliation against their employer. Below is a safety overview of two job sectors where non-essential workers have a lot of contact with the public.
If you or a loved one are a non-essential worker who became seriously ill with COVID-19, call the employment law attorneys at The Dominguez Firm right away for a free and completely confidential consultation at 800-818-1818.
Some retail employees have been working since the start of the pandemic and are considered essential workers. These include grocery pet supply and drug store employees. However, non-essential retail workers have been returning to their workplaces since California’s Shelter in Place order was scaled back. Among the retailers who have opened their doors again are:
- Clothing stores
- Home furnishing stores
- Sporting goods stores
- Jewelry stores
- Departments stores in outdoor malls
While some of the safety precautions are the same as in other industries, a few are specific to retail:
- Encouraging contactless payment options and/or card use over cash
- Encouraging curbside pickup as much as possible.
- Installing hands-free devices in restrooms (e.g. touchless paper towel and soap dispensers).
- Limiting the number of customers in the store to encourage social distancing.
- Having dedicated shopping hours for seniors and other vulnerable customers.
The full list of retail guidelines for employers can be found here.
Amusement park/recreational facility employees
In spite of the high number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Orange County, Disneyland reopened their Downtown Disney District at the beginning of July. The opening drew a combination of large crowds and concern for park employees. While Disney hotels and most attractions remain closed, the enthusiastic response from the public to this soft reopening had many park employees nervous.
To quell those fears, Disneyland tightened its guidelines after the July 9, 2020 reopening to close any loopholes. Among the new rules are:
- Requiring masks of all guests over the age of 2.
- Banning the wearing of gaiters and bandanas as masks. Also, no masks with any holes in them.
- No walking and eating with one’s face mask off. If guests want to eat, they must stop and find a place at least six feet apart from anyone else before removing their masks.
Universal Studios Hollywood has also tested the waters by reopening CityWalk. Even though other popular amusement parks, such as Six Flags Magic Mountain remain closed, the idea of uncrowded parks with short lines for attractions and rides has enticed many people to return, even to limited offerings.
Disney and Universal have both given assurances that every safety measure is being taken to ensure the safety of all guests and employees. Fortunately, no outbreaks have been reported at either park.
If you became seriously ill with COVID-19 due to unsafe work conditions, contact the employment lawyers at The Dominguez Firm today.
The coronavirus crisis has forced all of us, including our employers, to adapt to this new reality. While some employers were quick to implement new government safety guidelines, others were slow to act with devastating consequences for their workforces.
If you became seriously ill or lost a loved one to COVID-19 due to unsafe work conditions, call the employment law attorneys at The Dominguez Firm at 800-818-1818 for a free consultation right away. If you were fired or discriminated against because you contracted the coronavirus, we’re available to help you as well. And if you’re concerned about the cost of hiring an employment law attorney from The Dominguez Firm, rest assured we charge no upfront or hidden fees. Plus, we win, or you don’t pay. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain, so call us today!