Many of us are aware of the human toll the virus has taken on the health of people and communities. But how have workers specifically been impacted?
In addition to the stress many workers have faced at work – including employment uncertainty, enforcing mask mandates, and embracing new and changing protocols – some workers have also had workplace exposures to COVID-19, getting sick with the virus. Some cases have been so serious the workers have required intensive care; some have even died.
SAIF has received more than three-quarters of the COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims in Oregon – with 3,020 claims through the end of July – and accepted 86% of them.
While most claims were for testing or quarantining due to exposure, many were much more serious and costly. We anticipate some to cost more than $1 million.
“These numbers represent Oregonians who have had significant impact to their lives from workplace exposure,” says SAIF Industrial Hygienist Kim Henry. “This includes workplace fatalities from COVID-19.”
The good news is vaccines and masks work.
“Workplaces and workers across Oregon have suffered. To prevent illness with COVID-19 and the impact to our workforce, we need to use all the tools we have until we beat this virus once and for all,” says Kim. “We know that protecting our employees ultimately protects our businesses, our economy, and our communities.”
Here are seven workplace safety measures that can help:
- Follow the Governor’s indoor mask mandate, which takes effect August 13.
- Encourage employees to get vaccinated. This includes providing paid time off to go get the shot, offering paid sick time to recover from potential side effects of the vaccine, or even hosting a vaccination event.
- Implement physical distancing protocols in the workplace.
- Provide periodic COVID testing for employees who can’t get vaccinated.
- Implement engineering controls, like portable HEPA filters, that can help prevent the spread of the virus.
- Provide N95 masks to employees who work in high-risk environments, like correctional facilities, long-term care facilities, and other healthcare workplaces.
- Keep workplaces clean and make sure employees are provided with the time and supplies to practice good hand hygiene.
And don’t forget to follow Oregon OSHA’s rule on COVID-19.
SAIF is Oregon’s not-for-profit workers’ compensation insurance company. Since 1914, we’ve been taking care of injured workers, helping people get back to work, and striving to make Oregon the safest and healthiest place to work. For more information, visit the About SAIF page on saif.com.