As the University continues moving toward returning to normal operations, student workers have raised a variety of related concerns regarding health and safety. It is important to remember that student workers have the right to a safe workplace and the right to speak up or make complaints about health and safety without fear of retaliation. Columbia has a legal obligation to provide a workplace free of known health and safety hazards. Given the unprecedented dangers associated with COVID-19, we urge all workers to understand and remember these important workplace rights. See below for some general COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.
EMPLOYEE RIGHTS TO A SAFE WORKPLACE DURING COVID-19
What you should expect from the University:
- Adjustment of workplace hours and shifts as necessary to reduce density in the workplace.
- Enactment of social distancing protocols.
- Restriction of non-essential travel for employees.
- Requirement to wear masks for everybody in frequent contact with others.
- Implementation of strict cleaning and sanitation standards.
- Enactment of a continuous health screening process for individuals to enter a workplace.
- Continuing tracing, tracking, and reporting of cases.
- Development of a plan for resurgence of the virus.
- Awareness of workers’ concerns about pay, leave, safety, health, and other issues that may arise during infectious disease outbreaks.
- Providing adequate, usable, and appropriate training, education, and informational material about business-essential job functions and worker health and safety.
How to protect yourself and the community:
- Only come to campus to do specific tasks that you cannot perform remotely.
- Ask for accommodations if you or members of your household are high-risk individuals (e.g. immunocompromised, elderly).
- Comply with adjustments in work schedules and assignment of shifts to reduce density in offices and labs.
- Ask how you can get your supply of PPE before you have to come back to campus and use it whenever you are sharing space with others or using public transportation. You can consult these tutorials—descriptive and video—on how to properly use a face mask.
- Practice social distancing and report if your workspace does not permit you to stay 6 ft away from others.
- Use hand and surface sanitizers provided as instructed and report if none are available. Wash your hands as often as possible. You can sanitize your hands with the gloves on as needed. Change gloves regularly as they get soiled.
- Increase outdoor air ventilation if possible.
- Check your temperature regularly; report if it gets ≥100.4 F and stay home.
- If you notice symptoms of COVID-19 at any point of your workday, report this to your supervisor and go home/request to leave work immediately.
Contact your Union if your supervisor does not let you enforce your rights and creates an unsafe work environment: firstname.lastname@example.org