Essential Worker Safety and Support: How to stay safe while at work

Essential workers who must return to in-person jobs are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 due to increased contact with others. Scientific studies have shown that a large percentage of COVID-19 cases were likely contracted at work. Therefore, it is important to follow these steps to reduce your risk of COVID-19:

What YOU can do to protect YOURSELF while at work:
BEFORE YOU ARRIVE

✓ STAY HOME IF YOU ARE FEELING ILL

If you are feeling ill at all, or have any COVID-19 symptoms, stay home.
You should also take your temperature daily, before leaving for work to ensure that you do not have a fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It is best to do this when you are relaxed. If you have been exercising or have spent time outdoors in the heat, wait 20 minutes or more before taking your temperature.  
✓ WASH YOUR HANDS
Regularly washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water is one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 
✓  LEAVE NON-ESSENTIAL, PERSONAL ITEMS AT HOME
You likely need your wallet, keys, and phone. However, you should avoid bringing any non-essential personal items such as jewelry, bags, tablets, books, etc.
✓ AVOID CARPOOLING WITH MEMBERS OF OTHER HOUSEHOLDS
If possible, use personal transportation (car, biking, walking) so that you may maintain physical distancing from others. If this is not possible, be sure to wear a face covering in any public transportation (bus, city transit, carpooling with others, etc.).
✓ IF YOU WEAR CONTACTS, OPT FOR GLASSES INSTEAD
Wearing contacts may increase your likelihood of touching your eyes, which can spread COVID-19. If possible, wear glasses to work. If you must wear contacts, DO NOT touch your eyes and frequently wash your hands or use a 70% alcohol based hand rub if hand-washing is not possible.
WHILE YOU ARE AT WORK
✓ WASH YOUR HANDS
Regularly washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water is one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. You should wash your hands after using the restroom, before and after eating, anytime your hands are dirty or soiled, after touching your face, and after contact with any high touch objects or surfaces.
✓  IF POSSIBLE, KEEP HAND SANITIZER WITH YOU
For times when washing your hands may not be possible during the day, if it is possible, have a 70% alcohol based hand sanitizer rub in your work area.
✓ WEAR A CLOTH FACE COVERING
You should always wear a face covering while around others, regardless of whether you are showing symptoms. You can spread SARS-CoV-2 even if you aren’t feeling badly.  For information about what face coverings are most appropriate, visit this link.
✓ MAINTAIN PHYSICAL DISTANCING
Whenever possible, you should remain 6 feet or farther away from others. As this is not always possible at the workplace, be sure to always wear a mask when in contact with others. Also remember to avoid any physical contact with others such as handshakes or hugging.
✓ PUT PERSONAL ITEMS AWAY
Avoid touching your personal items while at work to reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 contamination. If you must have contact with these items, be sure to regularly sanitize them.
✓  DO NOT SHARE PERSONAL OR FREQUENTLY USED ITEMS 
Avoid sharing any personal or frequently used items, such as pens and other office supplies.
Avoid contact with frequently touched equipment, such as water fountains, copiers, fax machines, printers while at work UNLESS it has been properly sanitized after each use.
✓  ADVOCATE FOR SAFE WORKING CONDITIONS SUCH AS
More frequent sanitation of high touch surfaces
Face covering requirements for customers and workers
Staff health checks and policies to support workers who are ill to stay home
Leave policies that allow individuals to isolate and quarantine to minimize transmission
Physical spacing controls – one way entrance and exit, distance signage
WHEN RETURNING HOME
✓ WASH YOUR HANDS 
Regularly washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water is one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Before returning home, it is suggested to thoroughly wash up to your elbows.
✓ CHANGE YOUR CLOTHES BEFORE OR IMMEDIATELY AFTER COMING HOME
If possible, change your clothing before returning home. You may keep a bag outside your home or in your garage to leave your dirty clothes in after work.
If this is not possible, immediately change clothes after returning home from work.
✓ LEAVE SHOES OUTSIDE 
Leave your shoes outside, as they may have picked up SARS-CoV-2 virus while at work. [Current evidence suggests these types of fomites (objects that can transfer virus) are less likely to lead to infection, but it is a simple measure that may help reduce your risk.]
✓ SANITIZE YOUR PERSONAL OR FREQUENTLY USED ITEMS
Phones, wallets, keys, water bottle and other personal items may be contaminated with SARS-CoV-2. Be sure to clean these items with a sanitizing wipe or 70% alcohol based hand rub.
✓ SANITIZE HIGH TOUCH SURFACES IN THE HOME
You should also take daily precautions to avoid the spread of COVID-19, such as sanitizing commonly touched surfaces around the home (doorknobs, light switches, tables, etc.). For information on what precautions to take, visit this link.
If you believe that your employer is not taking necessary precautions to protect you and other employees at your place of work, you can file a complaint through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or you may contact your county’s health department.

HCW HOSTED started as a Tucson community-based initiative to help assure the well-being of HealthCare Workers (HCWs) throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are a healthcare worker, visit this link to receive support, services, resources, and housing

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