The world, as we know it, is on hold for the time being. We all must socially distance ourselves in order to flatten the curve and stop the spread of this virus. Many employers have pulled the plug on their business while we all are dealing with this pandemic. This keeps employees safe and away from the masses but comes at a cost to earned wages. Other employees have been told that business will operate as usual and are to report for work despite the need to distance and avoid unneeded contact. I was shocked when a buddy of mine called me today. He is an employee of a business in sales, dealing hand in hand with consumers. His employers told him that business as usual means you still need to shake hands and kiss the babies, so to speak. I couldn’t believe an employer could be this ignorant and jeopardize the health of their employees. This conversation and the inability to get over the request of my friend’s employer led me to wonder how the Occupational Health and Safety Act correlates to this situation and that of many others during this uncertain time.
Here’s what I found…
Section 25 of the Act places a duty upon employers to, among other things, take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of the worker. Seems pretty clear to me that in the era of a global pandemic involving a disease that is primarily spread through respiratory droplets, it is entirely unreasonable to promote the shaking of hands. Employers have to remember that we all need to do our part to keep our community safe. They cannot put the health and safety of their employees on the line to create a fictional business “per the usual” environment.
In order to raise awareness of this Act…
I told my buddy to post this on one of his social media feeds, hoping that his employer takes notice. I also told him to refer his employer to the Occupational Health and Safety Act and reminded him of his ability to refuse to work if the employer still wants hand to hand service. During this time, we all need to work together, not against each other.
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By: Nick Cake