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Older Workers Concerned About Pandemic Safety Practices

Survey finds many boomers won't remind colleagues to follow social distancing and wear masks

A worker stands with a mask and face shield on

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En español | When it comes to basic measures to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in the workplace, only 56 percent of boomers say they would ask colleagues to put on masks, wash their hands or practice social distancing — a slightly lower percentage than among millennial, Gen X or Gen Z workers, according to a survey.

Although they may not directly speak up, many boomers are hoping their employers will step up when it comes to taking precautions against COVID-19. Boomers say they would feel more confident at work if masks and hand sanitizers were available and their use was enforced (57 percent), mandatory social distancing protocols were imposed (56 percent), real-time cleaning of heavily trafficked areas occurred (52 percent) and temperature checks were done (51 percent), according to the survey of 2,578 U.S. adults released by SafetyCulture, a company that makes mobile apps that help companies optimize their safety procedures.

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Older workers, who may be more accustomed to following a chain of command, need to take the initiative when it comes to protecting themselves against the coronavirus, said Bob Butler, general manager of SafetyCulture for the Americas.

"At work, give yourself license to speak up should safety concerns arise,” Butler said.

While most boomer employees are willing to do what it takes to stay safe from COVID-19 on the job, 16 percent admit they're not complying with social distancing at work, and 31 percent say they're unlikely to keep their masks on for the entire workday.

But companies ultimately have a responsibility to promote safety practices and focus on getting workers to comply. “When we look at willingness to adapt to new behaviors like mask wearing, the biggest factor for workplaces is organizational culture,” Butler said.

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