Protecting Washington workers in the pandemic

September 4, 2020 | Abhyjot Pandher
Pandher, wearing a face mask, standing next to a sidewalk with evergreens in the background.

DEOHS environmental health major responds to workers' concerns about COVID-19 and more while interning with Washington State Department of Labor & Industries

Pandher on the way to a COVID-19-related inspection. Photo: Courtesy of Pandher.

This summer, I interned at the Department of Occupational Safety & Health in the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. I learned about ensuring the health and safety of employees exposed to different hazards, especially the COVID-19 pandemic.

On field visits, I observed and participated in sampling, interviewing employees and employers, and opening and closing conferences. These site visits address employees’ exposure to silica dust, noise, lead, COVID-19 and much more. This is a photo of me going for a COVID-19-related inspection.

COVID-19 is a new hazard, and we are still learning to fight it. It was uplifting to help ensure the health and safety of workers, who are fighting COVID-19 in so many different ways, and in turn protecting the lives of the public. To address employees’ concerns about their risk for COVID-19 at work, we implemented new policies and guidelines to ensure that they receive proper COVID-19-related training and personal protective equipment, and that they follow social distancing in the workplace.

This experience has motivated me to contribute to the well-being of employees at different workplaces. I’m grateful to these workers for providing us necessities such as food, clothing, housing and, most important, healthcare. Moreover, this experience has prepared and motivated me to work toward my future goals of ensuring occupational health and safety in any situation or workplace.