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COVID-19 Safety and Health of Employees

The COVID-19 outbreak started in China towards the end of 2019. By the first half of 2020, the outbreak became a global pandemic and spread to all regions worldwide (Cleveland Clinic, 2021). Coronaviruses cause a severe respiratory illness that affects different people in different ways. The virus is transmitted through the air, physical contact with infected persons, and enters the body through the eyes, mouth, and nose. This has therefore resulted in new challenges, especially in workplaces and public places. To ensure continued business operations, the CDC has recommended various measures to be implemented at workplaces for the safety and health of employees. Some changes have been experienced have been controversial and are legally considered an infringement of some constitutional and human rights. Among the results experienced are reduced salaries, employment termination, and profiling based on age and individual’s health status.

The main aim is why the covid-19 protocols have been implemented at workplaces is to reduce the rate at which the disease spreads and avoid making business places covid-19 hot spots. The number of people infected with covid-19 is increasing daily, and millions of people have lost their lives. This crisis is an unprecedented situation that affects all areas of life. Thus, it is hard to predict the status in the near future or control it effectively. However, some measures have been put in place to curb the spread of the virus. However, some of these measures have inevitably affected people’s security, safety, and livelihood. Nevertheless, even the human rights law allows for limits to the level at which human rights can be exercised in cases of national emergencies (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021).

Based on human rights, the government is tasked with taking care of its people, which is considered a priority, and protecting their livelihoods. Covid-19 has affected the economy massively, and as a result, many people lost jobs, increased medical bills for sick relatives, closure of businesses, and reduced sales are felt globally. The government is focused on combating the virus. Thus, there has been little effort to help people experiencing a financial crisis. Most of the government’s money, resources, and attention have dealt with the situation, which is an international emergency.

The current situation has resulted in discrimination where some people are treated less favorably. Based on human rights requirements, the government should treat people equally based on age, disability, gender, health condition, sex, nationality, ethnicity, or wealth (United Nations, 2020). The virus does not discriminate ad is taking the lives of all people. The effects of the pandemic are also affecting all people, some more than others. One of the response measures has been that people who seem to have lower immunity do not go to work. This group includes; age, pregnancy, underlying medical conditions, and family medical history, which dictates their immunity. They are asked to work from home where possible, and others have been sent away on leave until further notice. These actions deny them a chance to work and earn a living. After the covid-19 pandemic, many workplaces only allowed workers below 50 years of age and those not considered to be at high risk of being infected. Thus, pregnant women and people who have existing medical conditions right to employment have been infringed. Nevertheless, the government and other bodies who made this decision are trying to ensure the safety of these people even when it has minimal impacts on the lives of the people.

Before businesses open or reopens, the first step is to assess the safety of the business and risks in the occupation. Employers have been pushed to categorize the business as either essential services based on its purpose. People cannot do essential services without healthcare facilities, suppliers, security, transport personnel, food vendors, relief services, pharmaceutical production, medical research, media personnel, and the government. Most of these businesses consist of front-line workers and are highly vulnerable and offer essential services to the public (Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 2020). The other businesses are also crucial but can either be carried out from home or can afford closure. These actions are an infringement of human rights on equal treatment for all. However, all these entities need to ensure employee safety for the continued running of the business. This means that the business needs to report the risks involved in response to exposure of employees to Covid-19, which must be submitted within the first month after opening or reopening. The report should include; activities that require physical contact, the ability to operate within the recommended health guidelines, and an analysis of the risk of infection.

Workplaces are expected to develop plans and policies which will guide the business operations. The guidelines will contain business protocols to train employees and management in business operation after opening. This also includes training employees such that they can help transform business operations and service delivery. The Covid-19 protocols are only effective when each person in the entire group plays their role effectively. This means that employees’ roles need to be redefined, especially when their occupations involve direct contact. These new policies will be part of occupational safety protocols in the organization, including prevention and mitigation of the spread in case infection occurs (Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 2020). Among the recommended measures include; maintain social distance at least six feet apart from each other. The employees also require face masks, availing screening options, disinfecting surfaces, observing cleanliness, and avoiding physical touch as much as possible. Employers are also required to provide hand sanitizers or soap and water for regular hand cleaning. Apart from making such preparations and responses to the crisis, employers must also ensure that employees are equally involved in the response plan. This will help ensure equality, transparency, and accountability of each employee individually.

Another human rights violation has been on lower wages compared to services offered. There have been unexpected changes may be a cut on salaries due to a decline in the economy. Some workers have been sent on unpaid leave and are not to return until further notice. Many of those who remain have had their salaries reduced. The closure and the crisis have decreasing investments. Thus, many businesses are trying to salvage the situation by lowering costs. For many companies to recover the losses, they have to reduce the cost of operation, which includes partial closure of businesses and reducing salaries despite the increasing cost of living. These conditions are not fair for employees and are highly likely to increase working poverty. As much as these are not ideal work situations and are against the international labor standards, some businesses can barely afford to support the day-to-day running of the company.

Another human right violation is the exposure of employees to risky working conditions where they may contact Covid-19. However, good practice responses are recommended by human rights and healthcare-related bodies such as CDC and WHO to help protect the employees. Employers should have listed guidelines on handling situations where an employee becomes sick (Suspected covid-19) cases within the workplace. Such preparations are essential such that when there is an emergency, everyone understands the required protocol, follows it effectively, and helps save lives (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021). However, this process has restricted freedom of movement around the workplace and their right to work in a free and safe work environment. It is hard to change the situation, but this is creating a stressful work environment. Therefore, employers should ensure that such measures are put into account.

Other direct measures which need to be changed include providing sufficient tissues for use when sneezing or coughing to lower the risk of infections. Another action is holding meetings online to prevent physical workplace gatherings, which can easily result in the spread of Covid-19. This is efficient for both people who are at home and those in the office. Another measure is ensuring proper ventilation and aeration in the workplace, including air conditioning and window opening to improve the quality of air that the people breathe. Another essential measure is asking employees not to share utensils before thoroughly cleaning with water and soap after they are used. Also, workplaces need to assign staff to clean several times to ensure the work surfaces are disinfected. When it comes to business-related travels, the employees are supposed to get tested for covid-19 before and after traveling as a safety precaution (Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 2020).

People have the right to travel freely and do business everywhere with the right documentation (United Nations, 2020). However, with the onset of the pandemic, many countries put up travel restrictions and bans, which has done businesses hard. and banned. In the few which people can access, employees need to be sensitized to protect themselves from contracting the virus. They are required to be tested for Covid-19 before and after the journey, which has made the process hard. However, the government cannot undermine people’s safety even if it means overlooking other needs of the people. One such way is taking necessary precautions when traveling, going to and from work. If possible, an employer should consider providing transport means to employees to reduce public contact. If not, employees should be educated on how to conduct themselves to prevent contracting the virus or passing it to others (World Health Organization, 2021). Employees who live close by should be encouraged to commute, ride bikes, or use private vehicles, which helps reduce public contact. When arriving and leaving the office, the employees should be encouraged to wash their hands to prevent the transfer of the virus from place to place. This process interferes with the rights of employees of free movement and being subjected to making changes in how they live their lives to ensure that they fit in their places of work.

Another right violated is making medical decisions for an adult where one can agree or refuse to submit to tests or vaccination willingly. Nevertheless employees, all employees are required to take Covid-19 tests from time to time to help lower the risk of infections at the workplace. Other workplaces have mandated compulsory vaccinations to their employees. The tests should be inclusive of all employees and are to be carried out on the work premises. This is a violation of human rights of their freedom to accept treatment and submit to tests. As a result, this goes against both work ethics and people’s rights based on federal law. However, based on ethical considerations, the tests are for the greater good of all people within the organization; thus, it is within reason and hence considered lawful. The tests ensure that they can be isolated and treated before infecting others and before they experience significant symptoms in case a person is infected. Apart from the medical tests, each person, both employees, and employers who access the premises, are subjected to tests for temperatures, which is the most common symptom of a person suffering from Covid-19. Also, to ensure transparency, employees are tested on their health risks in the process. In this case, factors such as immunity may also be tested. This can be determined by testing employees’ blood pressure, diabetes, heart-related illnesses, and other lifestyle diseases (Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 2020). This measure helps determine the suitability of a person to work from home or in the office. Other factors which should be considered include age, distance from home to work, the situation at home, i.e., those living with aged parents or young children. Even though the rights of employees are violated, the aim to protect human life prevails.

Other essential tests that should be carried out are of employees returning from quarantine or suffering from Covid-19. The tests should help affirm whether they are better. This helps ensure that these employees do not pose a danger to other employees or clients within the working premises. Also, these tests are to ascertain the employee’s well-being and ability to work and ensure their health status is not at risk due to the exposure. In this case, the medical examiner will also determine the factors that put a person at risk within the work environment. This is essential to help determine where to take precautions and implement preventive measures with the interest of employees in mind. This also allows employers to limit employees to the controllable factors only. The medical practitioner should also advise the employees on the importance of informing their employees where they have had direct contact with persons who have been confirmed to have the virus or suspect that they have contracted the virus. Reporting a sick employee or a suspected case of Covid-19 is essential since it will help take the precautions necessary and preventive measures required to protect other employees. These measures need to be included in the ethical practices in the business.

One of the rights of the people which has been increasingly observed is transparency at workplaces. Employees have been trained on the changes necessary and adjustments required. Training, in this case, will vary based on the industry and levels of exposure. Business places that are highly exposed require high levels of activity since more preventive measures are needed. Basic training includes how to handle clients, cash, and general conduct within the work area. The training should also include how employees conduct themselves publicly to protect themselves and others from contracting the virus. This process is supposed to be carried out voluntarily, but businesses need to ensure safety which is of higher priority. As noted earlier, each employee has the duty to protect themselves and others. This is only possible when employees are sensitized to the importance of caring for themselves and those around them. The safety and health plans are supposed to change work protocols and make the process easier (Cleveland Clinic, 2021). Sensitization will help create more understanding of how the process works and avoid discrimination of persons who had contracted the disease in the past. Since the situation is still new, many people are full of fear to contract the disease. As a result, many fear associating with anyone who has contracted the virus, which results in discrimination. This can be attributed to fear and lack of information. However, medical personnel can help train employees in separating facts from myths and help create a habitable work environment for all people.

This process also includes details of covid-19, such as symptoms of a virus in an infected person. Such measures will help enhance the right to transparency and protecting people’s livelihoods. Covid-19 has various symptoms and affects people differently. However, some common symptoms include; high fever, cough, shortness of breath, and difficulties in breathing. Other cases are more severe such that people develop pneumonia, respiratory failure, kidney failure, and death. Helping employees understand these symptoms ensures that they are on the lookout for themselves and those around them who might exhibit similar symptoms. However, symptoms vary from one case to another, and having these symptoms does not mean one has the virus because these are common symptoms for many health issues, but one needs to be tested to rule out the possibility.

Covid-19 has had a massive impact on the lives of many people in various ways. Some people have lost loved ones, and others fear contracting the virus, while financial matters stress others. The stress results from a stressful and unhealthy work environment due to financial straining and other work-related problems. However, the problem is affecting people globally, and thus there is no point in pointing fingers. Nevertheless, many people face various challenges that made life more stressful, which greatly affected people’s mental health. As a result, there is an increase in mentally ill persons and even deaths from mental health-related issues. Many people are vulnerable, and if preventive measures are not taken, employers are highly likely to lose some of their employees. Thus, they must introduce mental health wellness sessions and support programs to address this problem. These programs will help people take care of each other and be more compassionate during these challenging times. Also, a person will individually handle their issues and prevent deterioration of their mental state. When employees get help dealing with their mental problems, they can offer much more regarding innovativeness, quality output, and the quantity of work covered. These programs also help people seek help, and employers understand different people’s issues concerning the sudden changes in their lives.

Various measures are required to be maintained within the workplace by everyone, including employees, employers, workmates, and clients. These measures include social distancing, proper ventilation, facemasks, disinfectants, or washing one’s hands regularly and thoroughly. Some of these measures may require harsh implementation, such as denying entry to anyone who does not observe the necessary protocol. This, however, would be a denial of free will and freedom of choice. But again, ensuring the people’s health is a high priority at the moment, which means some other rights may be infringed to ensure the safety of the community. These are the primary protocols required by the health officials in any given institution. Employers need to ensure that they are good role models in following these rules to follow suit. The office should also enforce these measures. Clients who access the facility should observe these measures to ensure that if they have the virus, the chances of transmitting it to the employees in the facility are low. Legible notices should be placed outside the work area asking people to wear masks, wash their hands, or use disinfectants before entering and leaving the premises as a precautionary measure (World Health Organization, 2021). However, these instructions may vary, especially in places such as hotels and eateries.

An example is wearing masks cannot apply to hotels. Nevertheless, other measures apply equally. Also, the workplace should be sprayed regularly with disinfectant, and the same applies in cases where there are suspected covid-19 cases within the premises.

Food handling is a delicate area, especially when various people have to come in contact with it. In workplaces, people share food storage areas such as fridges and share food in the cafeteria. This interferes with employees’ right to privacy who handle the food by subjecting them to tests unwillingly. The employer should come up with measures that limit sharing of food among employees. There are other serious measures required, such as screening the cafeteria staff and their close contacts. People working in the cafeteria should also be highly sensitized and report when they directly contact sick persons and stop working immediately. Also, within the restaurant, strict hygiene measures should be observed to reduce any chance of transmission. The hygiene measures that need to be monitored include; thorough washing of utensils, disinfecting the dining area regularly, wearing masks, and washing hands regularly (World Health Organization, 2021). This area connects all employees in an organization and thus requires strict observance of the covid-19 prevention policies.

In cases of national emergencies, human rights can be rightfully violated with the interest of handling the crisis. This means that both employees and employers need to follow health protocols recommended by WHO and CDC to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Over time, there have been cases of increasing Covid-19 variants mutating (Cleveland Clinic, 2021). Thus, other measures may be taken, but as long as this is in the interest of protecting life, it supersedes all other rights. Although not necessary, there are other measures by which employees can add different protection layers such as gloves, face shields, and PPEs for front-line health workers and other directly exposed persons. This protective equipment helps lower the chances of exposure to employees. Gloves are handy for employees who handle cash or have to touch a person’s body parts, including the beauty and aesthetics industry.


The current global crisis related to Corona Virus has changed normalcy as people used to know it. As a respiratory disease that has claimed millions of lives, even workplaces have had to change their mode of operations to ensure workers’ and clients’ safety. Therefore, workplaces require to outline specific policies and requirements that employees need to follow to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the virus. Some of these measures have affected the rights of the people. They include the right to free will, the right to protected livelihoods, freedom of movement, and equal treatment at their workplaces. People have been subjected to; promoting hygiene, reporting suspected cases, ensuring food safety, and promoting working from home policies where possible. These measures are not enough to entirely stop the virus’s spread but slows it to a considerable rate. Most of these changes have interfered with the rights of employees directly. However, employees’ health and safety are of a high priority compared to the listed infringed human rights since protecting life supersedes all other rights.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, June 11). Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). CDC.

Cleveland Clinic. (2021). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): What is it, symptoms, causes & prevention.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2020). COVID-19 – Control and prevention | Occupational safety and health administration.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2020). Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19.

United Nations. (2020). Human rights are critical – for the response and the recovery. COVID-19 and Human Rights.

World Health Organization. (2021). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Health and safety in the workplace. WHO.


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