Workplace Covid-19 Dangers
What is a virus? It is an ultra-microscopic (20 to 300 nm in diameter), metabolically inert, infectious agent that replicates only within the cells of living hosts, mainly bacteria, plants, and animals – composed of an RNA or DNA core, a protein coat, and, in more complex types, a surrounding envelope.
Every virus is truly unique, which makes them very hard to identify, treat, or kill. Polio, HIV/Aids, MERS, and Ebola are just a few viruses that have spread through the human population worldwide and killed many people. Cures for viruses are rare, there is usually only treatment and hopefully a vaccine to prevent further proliferation.
We do know that people can cut down on spreading the Covid-19 virus by maintaining a safe distance away from other people, washing hands, keeping hands away from eyes, nose, and mouth, and avoiding the droplets from other people’s coughs and sneezes. This situation is very fluid, however, and exact precautions for Covid-19 are not completely established. Current recommendations by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) are minimum precautions and everyone should remain vigilant for updates.
Millions of people have been sent home from their jobs, some on a temporary basis and many don’t know if they will ever return. As people are called back to work there are fears that being in close contact with other employees may be dangerous, and time will tell if reopening businesses is a good course of action or not.
It is the responsibility of every employer to provide a safe workplace, and enforcement of requirements to do so rests with Federal agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as well as state, county, and local authorities.
Can an Employer Force You to Return to Work?
No one can be forced to work if they don’t feel safe, but in some states an employer may terminate an employee if they don’t come to work. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, issued an executive order in early April prohibiting companies from firing people who stay home for certain coronavirus related reasons. Each instance will depend on existing laws for the particular area and the future legal ramifications for these issues is yet to be determined.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 gives workers the right to refuse to work if they feel workplace conditions may place them in imminent harm. The Act states, in part, that employers must provide a workplace that is “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.”
You may work in an office, a factory, restaurant, or any other place – the employer must follow the rules for your safety. If you believe that you have become ill or you have been injured because your employer did not provide a safe workplace you should ask an attorney to explain your options and your rights to protect yourself and get immediate treatment.
The Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus has helped victims injured in Florida due to the carelessness, negligence, and malpractice of others since 1992. We are available 7 days a week at (954) 356-0006 and our consultations are completely free and confidential.