Staying safe on the job during COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, but restrictions are relaxing in Massachusetts. That means that whether you’ve been working through the pandemic or are just heading back to work, there’s a good chance you’re going to come in contact with more people when you’re on the job.
Despite the relaxed restrictions, it’s still important to take steps to protect yourself and others while the pandemic continues. Here are some tips to help you stay safe as we move toward more normal lives.
Get the vaccine as soon as possible
In Massachusetts, people age 16 and older are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccines are very effective at the most important thing: preventing serious illness and death.
Experts say you should get whichever brand of vaccine is available to you first. If you have concerns about getting a vaccine, talk with your doctor.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says you should follow safety guidelines at work even when you are fully vaccinated.
Follow general pandemic safety practices
The same things health experts have been urging people to do outside the home apply at work as well. Wear a mask, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently, and stay 6 feet away from others whenever possible.
The CDC recommends thoroughly ventilating work areas whenever possible to clear viruses in the air. You may not be able to control the ventilation system at work, but opening windows and doors can also help.
And it’s important to know the symptoms of COVID-19, and stay home and away from others if you develop them. Those symptoms include:
• Coughing, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
• A fever or chills
• Vomiting or diarrhea
• Loss of taste or smell
If you work with the public
You’ll want to be extra careful if you work in restaurants, grocery stores, schools and other jobs where you’ll come in contact with many people. Wearing high-quality masks and keeping as much distance between yourself and others are especially important in these settings, along with other general safety steps. Here are some other tips that may be helpful, depending on your job:
• Avoid spending long periods of time in shared spaces, such as break rooms and rest rooms.
• Encourage customers to use no-touch payment.
• Don’t touch your face.
• Place change on the counter, not directly in a customer’s hand.
If you work outside
Working outside calls for caution just like inside, but with a big advantage: natural ventilation. The CDC says outdoor activities are safest, since COVID-19 is more likely spread indoors than outdoors.
If you’re working outside, make sure you’re wearing a mask and staying six feet from your co-workers when that’s practical. The fresh air will further protect you.
If you work in an office
Working in an office can expose you to large groups, though likely not as many as in retail, restaurant or school environments. In the office, general safety recommendations can help reduce your risk of getting sick. The CDC also suggests that you:
• Arrange chairs in common areas to support social distancing. Try turning or covering them so they can’t be used, spacing them apart or removing seats.
• Avoid handshaking, hugs and fist bumps.
• Sit outside and at a distance when you can for lunches, breaks and meetings.
• Take the stairs instead of elevators.
The bottom line
COVID-19 has changed our lives and the way we work. The good news is we can all help stop the spread. The more people get vaccinated and follow safety practices, the faster we’ll be able to get back to our normal lives.
Tufts Health Plan is one of the few health plans in Massachusetts to offer coverage across the life span regardless of age or circumstance. This coverage includes Medicaid/subsidized, commercial and Medicare health plans. To learn more,