Your Rights If You’re Exposed to COVID-19 at Work

OSHA and CDC guidelines are clear about what management should do if someone in your workplace tests positive for COVID-19. Here's what to do if management isn’t following the rules. 

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Every day, growing numbers of Teamsters are testing positive for COVID-19. In some areas, union action has forced the company to follow OSHA and CDC guidelines. 

But in others, Teamsters who have been directly exposed to co-workers with COVID-19 are being kept in the dark and not given a chance to get medical advice and self-quarantine with pay. 

Here’s what you should know about your rights and how to make management respect them.

OSHA Rules: If an Employee Tests Positive

If an employee tests positive or self-quarantines for COVID-19, they should report this to management. 

OSHA and CDC guidelines require management to:

  • Inform workers of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace

  • Contact Health Department authorities 

  • Identify employees who have been directly exposed to the sick co-worker

  • Put employees who have had direct exposure in touch with government health authorities to get advice on whether to self-quarantine 

Management also has to sanitize affected work areas, trucks, and equipment.   

Confidentiality Do’s and Don’ts

OSHA requires management to tell workers that they may have been exposed in the workplace— while protecting the sick individual’s confidentiality. 

Management is also required to contact health officials and identify co-workers who have had had direct contact with the sick employee so directly exposed Teamsters can get medical advice and self-quarantine if necessary.  

In some areas, management is following these steps. But in others, Teamsters who have been directly exposed are not being informed so they get medical advice about self-quarantining.

Holding Management Accountable

In many areas, UPS and other employers are routinely violating these OSHA and CDC guidelines and keeping Teamsters in the dark—even when they’ve been directly exposed to a co-worker with COVID-19. 

There is no silver bullet. But here are tools that working Teamsters can use to pressure management follow the rules and protect our health and safety. 

  • File a Grievance that management is violating the contract and OSHA guidelines by inadequately informing employees about their possible exposure to COVID19. 

  • File an Information Request demanding that management disclose the number of COVID-19 cases there have been in the workplace , the location of each case, and the action management took to work with health officials to identify and advise Teamsters who were in close contact with the co-worker who tested positive. Any shop steward has the power under Article 4 of the contract to file an information request.

  • Call OSHA. Management is required to disclose COVID-19 cases to OSHA, subject to the same rules and failure-to-record fines as other workplace injuries and illnesses. If management is keeping the workforce in the dark, the odds are that they are hiding these cases from OSHA too.

  • Contact the Health Authorities in your area and let them know that there are COVID-19 cases in your workplace.

  • Contact Your State Attorney General’s Office or hotline in your state if management is violating COVID-19 emergency mandates and Executive orders. 

Letting management know that you’re prepared to take these steps is the best way to get results without having to do so. 

Tips for Effective Union Action

We’re all in this together—and we’ve got to act that way. Before you act, talk to your steward, a safety committee member or other concerned Teamsters.

If you want management to address a problem, then you need to have proposed solutions. Go to management with specific actions they can take to remedy the situation.

The company should agree on a protocol with the union that brings them in line with OSHA and CDC guidelines so that Teamsters know if we have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 so we can get advice from medical professionals and health officials and self-quarantine if directed to do so. 

Contact TDU

We can give you advice and help you make a plan of action to protect yourself and other Teamsters you work with. We’ve got enforcement materials, too, like sample grievances and information requests. 

Click here to get in touch with us today.

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