How can you protect yourself from Covid-19 as you return to work? Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19, is highly infectious and can spread from person to person, including through aerosol transmission of particles produced when an infected person exhales, talks, sneezes or coughs. Particles containing the virus can travel more than 6 feet, especially indoors and in dry conditions, and can be spread by individuals who do not know they are infected (people with no symptoms).
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) encourages employers to take steps to make it easier for workers to get vaccinated and encourages workers to take advantage of those opportunities. However, some fully vaccinated people who are largely protected may still be capable of transmitting the virus to others. Because of this, guidance at your workplace may mirror the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendation of masking and testing even for fully vaccinated people in certain circumstances.
This OSHA guidance is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. It contains recommendations as well as descriptions of existing mandatory OSHA standards. The recommendations are advisory in nature and informational in content. They are intended to assist employers in recognizing and abating potential hazards likely to cause physical harm.
For more information on COVID-19 visit the CDC.
8 Ways to protect yourself from Covid-19 as you return to work
Protect Yourself from Covid-19 in the Workplace
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, spreads mainly among unvaccinated people who are in close contact with one another – particularly indoors and especially in poorly ventilated spaces. The CDC estimates that over fifty percent of the spread of the virus is from individuals with no symptoms at the time of spread.
Vaccination is the key element in a multi-layered approach to protect yourself from Covid-19 in the workplace. Learn about and take advantage of opportunities that your employer may provide to take time off to get vaccinated. Vaccines authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are highly effective at protecting vaccinated people against symptomatic and severe COVID-19 illness and death. According to the CDC, there is growing evidence that fully vaccinated people are less likely to show symptoms and can transmit the virus to others.
You should follow recommended precautions and policies at your workplace. Multi-layered controls tailored to your workplace are especially important for those workers who are unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk. Many employers have established COVID-19 prevention programs that include important steps to keep unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers safe. These COVID-19 prevention programs include measures such as working from home, engineering controls like proper ventilation, administrative policies like vaccination policies, PPE, face coverings, physical distancing and enhanced cleaning programs.
In addition, the CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people wear a mask in public indoor settings if they are in an area of high transmission. If you are fully vaccinated, you might choose to mask regardless of the level of transmission, especially if you or someone in your household is immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease, or if someone in your household is unvaccinated.
You can ask your employer about plans in your workplace. In addition, employees with disabilities who are at-risk may request reasonable accommodation under the American Disabilities Act.
Even if your employer does not have a COVID-19 prevention program, if you are unvaccinated or otherwise at risk, you can help protect yourself from Covid-19 by following the steps listed here:
Get a Covid-19 Vaccine
The Covid-19 Vaccine was recently approved by the FDA. Ask your employer about opportunities for paid leave, if necessary, to get vaccinated and recover from any side effects.
Wear a Face Covering
Protect yourself from Covid-19 by properly wearing a face covering over your nose and mouth. Face coverings are simple barriers worn over the face, nose and chin. Face coverings help prevent respiratory droplets or large particles from reaching others. Higher quality masks provide a greater measure to the user as well as those around them. CDC provides general guidance on masks, including face coverings. If you are working outdoors, you may opt not to wear face coverings in many circumstances. However, your employer should support you in safely continuing to wear a face covering if you choose, especially if you work closely with other people.
Properly Distance and Take Advantage of Flexible Scheduling Options
Unless you are fully vaccinated and not otherwise at-risk, stay far enough away from other people so that you are not breathing in particles produced by them – generally at least 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths). Please remember this approach by itself is not a guarantee that you will avoid infection, especially in enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces. Ask your employer about possible work-from-home and flexible schedule options. If possible, perform work tasks, hold meetings and take breaks outdoors.
Confirm Facility Ventilation and Sanitizing Standards
Participate in any education offered by your employer/building manager to learn how rooms are ventilated effectively. Encourage your employer to provide such training if it does not exist. You need good ventilation. Notify the building manager if you see vents that are dirty or blocked by furniture or equipment.
Practice Good Hygiene
Practice good personal hygiene and wash your hands often. When you cough or sneeze always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Monitor your health daily and be alert for COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough or shortness of breath).
Everest Medical Offers Covid-19 Vaccine Clinics for Employers
Vaccines authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the United States are highly effective at protecting most fully vaccinated people against symptomatic and severe COVID-19. You can get the Covid-19 vaccine at either of our Urgent Care locations without an appointment.
The Everest team also offers vaccination clinics to employers for their team members either on-site or at Everest. Contact email@example.com for more information.
Get Tested Regularly at Everest Urgent Care
To prevent spread, get tested regularly, especially in areas of substantial or high community transmission. Everest Urgent Care offers rapid Covid-19 testing with results in 24-48 hours. Testing is covered by insurance or federal funding. Walk-in appointments are available at our Urgent Care locations in Upper Darby and Chester.
For employers, we offer employee Covid-19 testing at your workplace or at our medical facilities in Upper Darby and Chester. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We will coordinate a team to meet your workplace needs.