PKSD Newsletter: What the Pandemic Has Revealed About Failures in Workplace Safety

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on August 13, 2021 in Personal Injury
Updated on February 24, 2022

America, now 16 months into the pandemic, has topped 600,000 deaths due to the novel coronavirus. The ongoing stress of dealing with this infectious and deadly virus has created a mental health nightmare across the country. The journey has been especially dangerous for those who must still leave home to go to work, especially for people in high-risk industries.

Read this month’s PKSD Newsletter to learn more about these employees working daily in environments where the risk remains the highest for contracting COVID-19. Many companies employing workers in high-risk industries have failed to implement adequate procedures or take sufficient measures to protect essential workers and reduce transmission.

Workers Most At Risk

Frontline responders, such as doctors and other health care workers, have remained some of the most affected by the virus. However, among those working in this industry, people of color and lower-income workers were found to be significantly more likely to die than even physicians.

Others most at risk of becoming infected by COVID-19 and becoming seriously ill or dying include the following workers:

  • Warehouse workers
  • Meatpackers
  • Grocery store staff
  • Retail workers
  • Restaurant staff
  • Delivery drivers

A recent study revealed that workers in the restaurant or agricultural industry experienced a 40 percent increase in the number of deaths after being infected with the virus.

Companies Placing Profit Over People

While most companies have taken at least some preventative measures to try to protect essential workers from being exposed to the disease, many others failed to do enough. Nowhere is this negligence more evident than for the industries already mentioned.

Some of the biggest failures of the pandemic include these:

The Meatpacking Industry

COVID-19 infection rates rose by 20 to 160 percent in meatpacking plants. Workers and their families state that these plants continued to ignore the rising infection rates. Instead, further policies were implemented that made transmission of the disease more likely, not less.

Warehouse Facilities

Though not the only warehouse to fail to implement sufficient protective measures for workers during the pandemic, one company stands out from the rest. Retail giant, Amazon, has, according to New York State Attorney General Letitia James, “repeatedly and persistently” failed to provide adequate protection for its warehouse staff. Yet their profits rose significantly during the pandemic – 220 percent.

Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care Facilities

Nursing homes failed miserably in their care of residents during the pandemic. A whopping 133,631 residents died from COVID-19 and almost 2000 staff. More than 600,000 residents in all became infected with the disease. Despite the number of violations committed by many nursing homes, immunity laws have been passed, or are being considered, to protect these negligent facilities.

Check out our newsletter to read about other industries that have failed to adequately protect workers from the virus.

Can Victims and Their Families File Lawsuits?

The potential for holding companies and individuals liable for negligently exposing workers to COVID-19 is small. Discussions are ongoing, but many of these companies are shielded by immunity laws.

Some workers may be able to sue their employer if they can provide evidence of gross negligence or willful misconduct. Companies may also be held liable for failing to adhere to public health recommendations.

How Transmission Can Be Minimized in the Workplace

People need to be proactive about protecting themselves and their co-workers as the Delta variant continues to see a rise in new cases. Measures that can help to prevent the continued of spread COVID-19 includes:

  • Following public health measures to prevent transmission
  • Adhering to health, mask, hygiene and social distancing measures
  • Strongly considering getting vaccinated to further protect yourself and loved ones

Read this month’s PKSD newsletter for more tips on helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace and beyond. You can also gain access to some helpful online tools to help you manage the mental health challenges brought on by the pandemic.

Need legal help? Call PKSD today: 877-877-2228

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