Sam Gets Up To Speed.

  • Disclaimer How should your employer be protecting you from COVID-19? Sam drives a shuttle bus to keep California moving. He transports essential workers to and from work. With people always in hurry and all the traffic, it's a challenging job in the best of times, but COVID-19 adds extra worries.
  • I just started my new job a week ago and I didn't know what to expect. It's been busy, busy, busy...
  • Sam has to continually remind people to keep their masks on and physically distance. I feel like I have to be constantly on guard against COVID. Focusing on driving is stressful enough. I don't want to have to worry about getting sick too.
  • That night, Sam and his mom, Linda, have dinner. Sam lives with his mom in Northern California. Sam, how's your new job going? It's super chaotic. More and more people are starting to take the shuttle again and it's hard to stay on schedule. And the whole COVID thing makes me nervous. But I guess that's just normal now.
  • Wait, they just threw you right in?! Without any training on how to deal with COVID?
  • Nope... They just gave me a flyer about passengers needing to wear masks and do the physical distancing thing, but that was it. Wow. That's not OK. They're supposed to train everyone on a whole list of things about COVID and how to do your job safely. That's why I've been so busy at work for months. I've been setting this up for Metroplex. Oh.
  • Linda is the building manager at an office complex, the Metroplex. She overseed a range of tenants and supervises her own team. Because Linda's team is made up of security guards and janitorial staff who need to work onsite, they are having an in-person, but physically distanced training. Whenever possible, however, remote training or outdoor training is prefered. I train everyone on my team about COVID.
  • I start by going over our company's program to keep workers safe from COVID, all of the policies and procedures. Then I go into some of the basics of COVID like - policies, what it is, how it spreads, symptoms, masks & distance, using masks, handwashing, benefits.
  • Masks and handwashing? Doesn't everyone know that stuff by now? Not everyone. And we all need reminders. And, look, even though we might know some things...
  • ...A lot of people don't know the main way it spreads is through the air. One of the questions I ask in the training is... Did you know that the virus can actually stay suspended in the air after someone talks, coughs, sneezes or even just exhales? During this time, all it takes is you breathing it in.
  • I ask my team a lot of questions. Like... How do you know if someone has COVID? Fever...cough...can't smell or taste...tired.
  • Yes, these are common symptoms and, if you have them, get tested. But you won't always know if someone has COVID because some people have no symptoms at all. ... This is why we have to be so careful in other ways, like with masks, physical distancing and handwashing.
  • Geez, so I could have it, not know, and then give it to my grandma...
  • What if you can't be 6 feet apart, like those of you in security? Put up those plastic barriers like we have downstairs in the check-in. Exactly.
  • We take lunch at different times now so we're not all bunched up in the break room. Yes. That's also why we're keeping the break room doors open these days so it can air out. COVID stays in the air longer in stuffy spaces.
  • As your employer, we're required to bring in as much outdoor air as possible. Fresh air helps air things out.
  • So, then I wrap up the training by going over benefits in case someone is exposed to COVID at work. I cover things like paid sick leave and workers' camp. It is illegal to fire or otherwise punish a worker if they are out sick with COVID-19... And if they have to get tested and stay home because they were exposed to someone with COVID-19 at work, it's required that they continue to be paid...
  • I didn't get trained on any of this.
  • Well, they're required to, honey. And, beyond the training, your company should already have a program to find and address any kind of covid hazarads.
  • Like at your work, they need to... Have someone like me that's in charge of the COVID-19 prevention program - you should know who this is. Then they need to screen all of the employees before work starts. If anyone has symptoms, they should stay home and get tested.
  • They also need to inspect work areas and look for ways that COVID-19 might spread. Then they have to fix it right away. And a really important one is to allow workers to help identify any unsafe COVID-19 things they see at work.
  • I had no idea about any of these things. Sam, it's important that your employeer sees safety at work as a top priority. You have the right to speak up. You should talk with other drivers and form a group to talk to you employeer. If you have a union, talk with your union rep about any concerns. Workers also have the legal right to file a complaint with CAL/OSHA.
  • It's not just a good idea to have COVID-19 protections at work, it's the law. These regulations apply to most workers in California.
  • Disclaimer California Department of Public Health. Occupational Health Branch. April 2021.