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How Essential Employees Can Protect Themselves from Coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic has upended daily life for people around the world. Many employers have furloughed or laid off employees as they’ve had to shut their doors to comply with social distancing restrictions.

For those employees who are considered essential, employees still go to work, but they have a fear of getting coronavirus while they’re on the job.

The following are some things to know if you’re still working, and you want to protect yourself and your family.

Be Aware of What the Main Risks Are

The best thing you can do for yourself, regardless of how active a role your employer takes in protecting employees, is to know what the true risks are with coronavirus, and the areas where you may be most vulnerable.

First of all, you have to recognize your individual risk of not just contracting coronavirus but developing complications.

Not everyone faces the same risk level. If you are older or have a certain underlying health disorder like a lung disease, you may be more likely to develop complications. If this is the case, you might want to give yourself extra protection while you’re at work.

The primary way the virus is spread is from close person-to-person contact.

Respiratory droplets are created when someone who is infected sneezes, coughs, or talks.

Beyond anything else, try to put as much distance between yourself and others, and do keep in mind that people with no symptoms can be a carrier of coronavirus.

Discuss Concerns with Your Employer

If you are working and you’re worried about coronavirus, it’s important that you talk to your employer. Your employer should be working to offer reasonable safeguards and protections for those employees who are still on-the-job.

If your employer isn’t willing to do this, you may need to speak with your local government.

Many large employees have made their own decisions to protect employees. For example, Twitter made it mandatory for employees in many locations to work remotely. Some employers like Amazon that have essential employees are taking temperatures and providing some level of personal protective equipment.

Keep Your Hands Clean

Keeping your hands clean sounds simple—too simple, in fact, but it is an important way to protect yourself from coronavirus and reduce the spread.

You should wash your hands as often as possible when you’re at work and at home.

Wash them for at least 20 seconds with warm soap and water, as health officials say that proper handwashing is your best line of defense.

When you’re at work you’re touching so many things you might not even think about such as light switches, elevator buttons and door handles so keeping your hands clean in the workplace is a must.

You should also keep a bottle of hand sanitizer at your desk that contains at least 60% alcohol. This lets you keep your hands clean between washing, but it’s not a replacement for hand washing.

Clean Surfaces

Take it upon yourself to clean surfaces frequently at work, as well as at home.

Your desk may be a hotbed of bacteria, so bring in some spray cleaner or disinfecting wipes.

Clean not just your desk, but your computer mouse, desk phone and all the surfaces you touch most often throughout the day.

Use wipes or napkins to touch surfaces, too, such as door handles.

Work As Far Away From Other People As You Can

If you work somewhere like a grocery store or warehouse, you don’t have much control over the people you come in contact with, but if you work in an office environment, you can reduce your contact somewhat.

Move away from others to work, and try to skip things like eating lunch in the breakroom during this time, even if other people are doing that.

Skip all the handshakes and hugs you might normally engage in at work too.

A lot of people are saying this coronavirus outbreak could lead to the end of the handshake as we know it.

Finally, wear a mask to work.

Your employer should absolutely let you do this, especially as it’s recommended by most major health organizations right now.

If you don’t have a medical mask, you can make your own following online tutorials.

Just don’t be lulled into a false sense of comfort with your mask. You still need to practice social distancing and keep your hands clean, even if you are covering your face, including your nose and mouth.