Atlanta Allergy & Asthma News

Returning to Work Safely During COVID-19

Updated on Friday, July 10, 2020

If you have a condition that you believe does not allow you to return to your job safely, we encourage you to first work with your employer to see if they can meet the CDC recommendations for safety in your specific workplace.

The CDC has made general recommendations for safety in the workplace that include encouraging sick employees to stay home, allowing for social distance, use of face coverings, frequent hand washing, and cleaning/disinfecting of the work area.

After speaking with your employer, if you still have concerns about your health, please contact your Atlanta Allergy & Asthma office to schedule a time to consult with your provider. We will work with you to come up with a plan that will protect your health and the health of those around you during this pandemic.

Information for Asthmatics on the Use of Face Coverings During the Pandemic

Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America (AAFA) has great information for asthmatics on the use of face coverings during the pandemic. The below information was taken from their article on how to work with your employer to keep you and those around you safe.

What Can I Do If My Job Requires Me to Wear a Face Covering or Mask?

As you return to work, you may be required to wear a mask or face covering as part of your job. But if you have trouble breathing while wearing a face covering, what are your options?

The first step is to work with your employer. Talk about ways you can work while still helping prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Here Are Some Ways You May Be Able to Work With Your Employer

  • Ask to serve in a role away from the public or other employees.
  • Ask if you can work a different shift or from home.
  • Try different types of face coverings in different fabrics or styles to find something more breathable. Or try wearing a face shield.
  • If you are part of a union, work with your union representative to ask for reasonable accommodations.
  • Ask if you can take more frequent breaks if you feel a face covering is affecting your breathing.
  • Stay home if you start having asthma or COVID-19 symptoms.

People with asthma are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under this act, people with disabilities can ask for reasonable accommodations so they can work. If your work requests won’t create a hardship for your employer, you can ask for accommodations.

But the ADA also says if an accommodation could cause harm to other people, then a business does not need to provide the accommodation. If a person with asthma is coughing and not wearing a mask, they might be exposing other people to COVID-19. So in this case, the employer could require the person with asthma to stay home or wear a face mask/covering.

If your company requires a face mask or covering, try to find one that works for you. Refer to the suggestions above (such as a face shield, which your employer would need to provide).

Don’t be afraid to talk to your supervisor or human resources representative. They may also have some creative ideas to help you do your job while managing your asthma.

Remember, wearing a face-covering is only part of the strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you can’t wear a face-covering due to asthma, physical distancing, staying home and washing your hands often can also help protect you and other people from COVID-19.