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Small businesses have a responsibility to protect workers during this time of crisis  

(© Andy Dean –

Critical information on the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is changing and evolving constantly. It seems like new numbers are coming out every hour that reflect just how quickly this virus is spreading across the country. As a result, there are bits and pieces of information flying across the internet at warp speed. Sadly, much of this information is inaccurate. It is important for people to trust information from medical professionals, such as the Department of Occupational Health and Safety, to make sure their businesses are safe for workers.

Businesses have a responsibility to protect their employees from harm, particularly during this pandemic. Protection for workers against injuries and illnesses is an important part of employment law. Fortunately, there are a few protections that businesses can easily implement.

First, businesses need to make sure that they abide by any and all shelter in place laws. If a shelter in place ordinance has been enacted for the municipality, then all workers who are employed by nonessential businesses should be allowed to stay home. Businesses that are widely considered essential include healthcare workers, grocery store workers, and individuals who work in pharmacies.

Next, anyone who is still going to work needs to make sure they wash their hands regularly throughout the day. The guidelines that have been published by the CDC indicate that employees should wash their hands with hot soap and water for at least 20 seconds. It is important to make sure to wash the backs of the hands, get under the fingernails, and scrub the webbing between the fingers. These are commonly missed spots that might lead to the spread of the virus.

Finally, businesses also need to make sure they take steps to clean all surfaces of the workplace that are frequently touched by employees. They should be cleaned by powerful disinfectant wipes regularly throughout the day. Some of the surfaces that multiple people touch on a regular basis include doorknobs, countertops, keyboards, and tablets. It is a good idea to follow the instructions that are provided on the labels of cleaning products. Consider mandating that employees clean these surfaces themselves after touching them. This type of aggressive cleaning, combined with social distancing measures, can curtail the spread of this virus not only in the workplace but also throughout the local community.

These are a few of the most important tips provided by government regulatory agencies to make sure that employees stay safe in the workplace. It is the responsibility of businesses to look out for their employees and do everything in their power to safeguard them from injuries and illnesses, such as this virus. Furthermore, all employees need to make sure they know their rights in the workplace. Nobody should ever feel like their health and safety are unnecessarily being placed at risk when they go to work.