New safety, health jobs emerge in coronavirus pandemic

Public safety jobs, on-site clinic jobs and telemedicine jobs are just a few examples

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New occupational health and safety jobs are emerging from the coronavirus pandemic as businesses try to keep workspaces clean and employees healthy.

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Amazon said last week that it has tripled the size of its "cleaning teams" to support its buildings during the pandemic since workers have raised concerns about safety measures at warehouses.

And Lowe's announced in early April it would have "dedicated social distance ambassadors to monitor customer flow and adhere to guidelines."

Servpro cleaning workers are sprayed as they exit the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Wash., March 12, 2020, at the end of a day spent cleaning inside the facility near Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

In the public sector, state and local officials across the country are trying to retain existing safety workers, even as they struggle with tight budgets.

"At the state level, where there might be some interest in improving worker safety, I think budgets will dictate their ability to retain or increase state [Occupation Health and Safety Administration] jobs," Jane Oates, president of WorkingNation, a nonprofit campaign dedicated to educating the public about workplace technology, told FOX Business.

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A Department of Labor spokesperson said in a statement that OSHA "currently has a number of job openings for positions that will help us keep America's workplaces safe. Anyone interested in working for OSHA can visit https://www.usajobs.gov for more details on how to apply for a job protecting America's workforce."

The department did not comment on whether the number of OSHA jobs will increase after the pandemic.

Whether these jobs are temporary or permanent remains to be seen, but experts say it's possible for the U.S. job market to expect health and safety jobs to stay around long after COVID-19 dissipates.

A worker cleans along the Las Vegas Strip devoid of the usual crowds as casinos and other businesses are shuttered due to the coronavirus outbreak in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

"Workplaces will never be the same again," Eric Bacon, CEO at AMD Global Telemedicine, told FOX Business. "We could see many changes as we attempt to reopen businesses. Employees being asked to take their own temperatures daily or twice daily would not be unexpected. People discovered to have an elevated temperature could be required to go home."

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"Occupational health professionals will be key to re-opening the country," Bacon said, as "significant changes in terms of workplace health and safety" will be needed.

It's possible that new workplace safety rules could translate to more workplace safety jobs when people are needed to enforce those rules. Bacon said there is also more demand for on-site health clinics to give employees access to convenient care.

"There has been a steady growth in jobs over the past three years with on-site health clinics," Bacon said. These clinics can include services other than just health check-ups, such as weight loss programs, smoking secession programs and more.

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Telemedicine jobs could also grow as more people opt to talk to a doctor or nurse practitioner from home to avoid visiting hospitals and clinics that are either housing or testing highly infectious COVID-19 patients. Telehealth apps that people may have been previously opposed to using are now getting some positive attention.

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"People are having to adopt these technologies due to our current health environment. What is likely to come out of this is people who may have been apprehensive before are now comfortable and even like the technology," Bacon said.

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He added that he expects direct-to-consumer telehealth platforms, which give employees access to doctors and nurse practitioners in "real-time from anywhere," to grow post-COVID-19.

"Physicians can order simple prescriptions for employees to pick up on their way home from work. This is already happening at a moderate scale now and will continue to grow significantly in my opinion in the coming years post-COVID 19," Bacon explained.

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Countries around the world are facing doctor shortages, especially during the pandemic, and telehealth could not only open more job opportunities for medical professionals but provide patients in remote and impoverished areas with access to necessary health care, he said.