Workplace Safety in the Pandemic
Written by Cooper & Friedman PLLC on November 17, 2020
In the time of the coronavirus, the way we work has changed dramatically. Getting back into the
office, if it is a viable option where you live, will have to look a lot different than it did before.
Depending on the type of environment where you work, this could impact everything from where
you park, to how you enter and travel through your building, use restrooms, eat snacks and
meals, take breaks, and more. Read along for an overview of some of the precautions you
should keep in mind for workplace safety during the pandemic.
State and Local Level Regulations and Guidelines
The first step you should take is to evaluate regulations involved with office work in your context.
For instance, in both Kentucky and Indiana, there are guidelines for how workplaces can safely
reopen if employers choose to do so. See Kentucky’s Healthy At Work webpage here and
Indiana’s guidelines here. These guidelines go over what sort of capacity is allowable, what
precautions are necessary, and other considerations in different workplace settings. The
amount of disease spread in your community will influence changing regulations and
recommendations. It’s important to know that the extent to which businesses are open is
variable as pandemic conditions change.
Precautions for Workplace Safety
There are many precautions that may be necessary to enhance workplace safety. These can vary
significantly based on the kind of workspace you are in. For example, a construction site will
have different protocols than an office space or a medical facility. You should reference local
and state-level guidance on what requirements there are for your context. In addition, here are a
few general precautions to keep in mind:
Mask-wearing is one of the core tools we have to fight the spread of infection. With few
exceptions, everyone should wear masks when in close proximity to other people. Masks are
extremely effective in preventing us from spreading the coronavirus to others, and also
somewhat effective in preventing us from being infected by others.
We know that the coronavirus seems to spread most frequently when people are within 6 feet of
each other (in general). So, if your workplace setup normally has people within this range of
each other, that is a risk factor for transmission. Enforcing at least 6 feet of distancing between
people is a baseline safety measure that is applicable to most settings.
Any shared surfaces or objects in a workplace should be regularly cleaned and disinfected. You
should also frequently wash and disinfect your hands in the workplace.
Indoor vs Outdoor Settings
Precautions vary based on whether a workplace or space is indoor or outdoors. The coronavirus
spreads more easily indoors, so more precautions are needed inside. These include more strict
distancing, masking, and cleaning protocols. In addition, airflow is important, as the coronavirus seems
to spread more easily when air is static, so opening windows and using fans can help
incorporate new, clean air more frequently. In outdoor settings, the same baseline guidelines
for distancing, masking, cleaning, and so on should still be followed. Airflow is less of an issue,
though, and if distancing of six feet or more is easily achieved masking may not be needed in
Limiting in-person meetings
This is an easy one- when possible, do not hold internal or external meetings in person. Fortunately, there
are many virtual options available, from Zoom to Skype and more.
People at higher risk
Some employees may be at a higher risk of infection or serious illness from the coronavirus.
The CDC identifies several older adults and people with medical conditions including cancer,
severe obesity, cancer, and more conditions
Option for remote work
In some situations, remote work may be a viable option that can help avoid unnecessary contact
during the pandemic. Working remotely is a great way to completely eliminate risk of workplace
The Cooper & Friedman law firm has been serving the needs of clients across Louisville,
Kentucky and in Southern Indiana since 1991. Our firm’s primary focus is personal injury law,
and this includes workers’ compensation, elder abuse, car and truck accidents, motorcycle and
bike accidents, medical malpractice, and unfair credit reporting. We offer free consultations to
discuss your case and determine how we can help you. Please contact us at 502-459-7555 to
schedule an appointment with one of our experienced attorneys.