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Plotting a safe course for workers in the coming weeks

Seneca Falls and the surrounding area is set to become alive with activity once again, as Governor Cuomo outlined the state authorities’ plans to end the lockdown and open for business once again. The post-lockdown environment will be a new and sometimes interesting one; the amount of legislation and rule-making made in haste during the crisis will have an impact on employers and employees alike. With confusion on the horizon, it’s a good time for employees and businesses to refresh themselves on what they can and cannot expect, and how to protect themselves as they return to in-person work.
A baseline protection
Underpinning employment is insurance and unemployment benefit. Both are often wildly misunderstood by employers and staff; a report on NY state employees in Bloomberg highlighted how many were discouraged from applying for unemployment benefit by their employers. The reason for this is the potential financial impact on both parties, something which can be readily prevented by planning. As businesses open their doors and employers get back to work, worker’s compensation insurance will be an essential part of any business planning for the future. The impact of a major event like this cannot be anticipated, and having thorough protections will be crucial for both parties. With the risk of re-infection on the horizon, too, this will be important in preventing serious liability from infection-related health and safety issues.
Following the regulations
In line with regulations, workplaces are becoming increasingly restricted in what they wear. Businesses will need to seek to enforce this or risk scrutiny from OSHA, and employees will want to protect themselves both out of self-interest and in terms of not being culpable for any breaches of regulations. As Eater NY outlines, much of this will surround mask use. In restaurants, for instance, customers and wait staff will need to wear masks when transiting from one area of the restaurant to another. Furthermore, employees will need to submit to health screenings before entering the workplace. The key takeaway here is to be vigilant.
Highlighting existing issues
There is a risk that headline-dominating events like coronavirus will sweep way other pressing issues. In late 2019, Scientific American reported on the pressing issue of pipe renovations making Seneca Falls residents unwell; this, and other occupational health hazards, cannot be ignored. It will be important that everyone in the business is vigilant to emerging health needs and approaches them accordingly. Doing so will require that coronavirus-based risks are nipped in the bud through careful management and adherence to regulations. Long-term, this will mean the workplace is safe and workers are protected as they start to get back to normal.
Everyone wants to see businesses open and New York flourishing. There remain a large body of regulations and rules to help make this a reality. For those returning to work, sticking to the script will be important to ensuring that the wheels keep running and industry enjoys a resurgence in New York.
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