As states reopen their economies after the pandemic-inspired shutdown, legislators develop safe guidelines for businesses. Without guidance from the federal government, lawmakers turn toward private organizations that offer safe return-to-work guidelines.
Representing workers first and foremost, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) released an extensive document that outlines an employee-centric vision for a “safe and just” return to work.
Five guidelines from worker’s rights federation
National COSH consists of worker’s rights groups from across the country. The group dedicates its actions to promoting safe and healthy working conditions with education, organizing, advocacy and training. Founded in 1972, the first COSH group has since expanded into 22 groups across the United States. The group advocates for increased health and safety regulations as well as greater compensation for workers.
National COSH put together five guidelines for states to follow when instructing local businesses how to reopen:
- Increased health and safety measures: National COSH recommends that businesses have protections for “essential” workers in the eventuality of another pandemic. These include training programs, an extensive inventory of personal protective equipment (PPE) and designing state-mandated Infections Disease Preparedness, Response, and Control Plans for businesses.
- Meaningful worker involvement in all planning: The worker’s rights group recommends states include workers and union representatives on all advisory boards responsible for designing reopening guidelines. Worker involvement will ensure that legislators do not make changes to collective bargaining agreements that protect businesses from negligence.
- Guaranteed job protections: These rules concern job protections for workers on sick leave. The group recommends that states mandate paid sick leave, quarantine pay, health care benefits, including mental health services, and expansions to anti-discrimination policies and accessibility accommodations.
- Planned screening, testing and contact tracing: The group recommends states provide workers access to free testing for infectious disease and community-based tracing programs that focus on education and accessibility.
- Plans to end economic and health disparity: National COSH recommends states adopt a “living, saving wage” so all workers can maintain stable lifestyles. These rules also include economic support for small businesses owned by people of color, immigrants and women.
Secure legal protections
Many employers still prioritize profits over employee safety. Workers who have questions about potential mistreatment at the hands of their employer can contact a local attorney familiar with employment law to assess their case.