The Sickest Workers Might Be Returning to Work First – Occupational Health and Safety - Freelance Rack

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Friday, July 17, 2020

The Sickest Workers Might Be Returning to Work First – Occupational Health and Safety

The Sickest Workers Might Be Returning to Work First

The Sickest Workers Might Be Returning to Work First

Healthcare is hard to come by in America without a salaried job, and many with hourly wages and preexisting health conditions are more worried about unemployment than coronavirus. Here’s why the sickest and most vulnerable might be coming to work first.

Ideally, every employer wants workers to come to work healthy and without a risk of infecting others. That is not always possible (with few paid sick days off a year) and especially during a pandemic when risk of COVID-19 transmission is high among workers. One recent New York Times piece explains why the sickest workers might be the first to return to work—which is probably the opposite of what is needed.

Many Americans are facing a difficult choice: go back to work and risk their health or lose their job and health insurance.

For many individuals with preexisting conditions, risk of infection from the coronavirus is especially high—which means that the idea of losing health insurance is almost unimaginable.

Patti Hanks, for example, is 62 and recently had ovarian cancer treatment. With her immunity low and at her age, she is worried about returning to the workplace, working with customers and sharing space and appliances with others.

If she did not return to work, she would lose her job and her health insurance.

“I just got over chemo,” she said. “Now is not the time for me to lose my insurance.”

So, like many other Americans, she returned to work—nervous, wary and with gloves and a mask. She makes sure customers keep their distance from her.

Hanks’ situation is not isolated. In fact, many Americans are in a difficult relationship with the idea of returning to work, losing their jobs, losing their health insurance or getting sick. For individuals getting paid minimum wage or hourly who do not have insurance, this risk of infection and no health coverage is extra daunting.



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