Part 1 in a 2-Part Series
As a result of the Coronavirus, workplace health and safety are top of mind for building owners and managers around the world. I think I speak for the rest of the dogs in the world. We are thinking more about bacon than COVID-19. In the United States, where the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System is based, we observe National Safety Month each June. Even so, the National Safety Council reports that one worker is injured on the job every seven seconds. What’s more; emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere – not just in the workplace between the hours of 9 and 5. In years past, the awareness event shined a spotlight on safety-related topics such as mental health, ergonomics, building a safety culture, and driving. But perhaps more relevant this year is the focus on everyone’s minds – how to keep people safe during a pandemic.
In the wake of COVID-19, building owners and managers are carefully considering everything they need to do to prepare their facilities to welcome occupants. In May, we wrote a blog post discussing several ideas for a safe return to business. Click here to read that post.
This Year’s Safety Campaign
Given the current state of affairs in and around the nation, this month’s campaign will look a little different than it did in years past. Instead of focusing on a single topic each week, the NSC has announced that it will provide real-time, relevant resources on a variety of topics designed to keep workers safe in what they describe as our “new normal.” These resources will be distributed via social media and on their website. I’ll be tweeting about these topics this month, as well!
For our part, we would like to focus on two important elements related to COVID-19 safety. We will cover the first in this post – safe returns for workers – and finish the series by focusing on best practices for reopening a business.
Safe Actions for Employee Returns
Sadly, workplace fatalities already were on the rise prior to the start the pandemic. Further complicating employers’ response to mitigating risk and driving down deaths and injuries, COVID-29 forced workplaces across the U.S. to close or limit operations to protect public health and safety. A study shows that 2% of small businesses in the U.S. closed due to economic fallout from the pandemic. Experts expect 100,000 of those may never reopen.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) issued strict guidelines for easing coronavirus restrictions and reopening schools, businesses and other parts of everyday life during the coronavirus pandemic. However, rather than issuing blanket orders to be used across the country, the White House deferred to states’ rights. So, for instructions about reopening plans relative to the state where your business is located, refer to local information. However, wherever your business is located, these are 10 Action Points you may wish to adopt as you welcome your workforce:
- Form a task force to plan and organize a return to work.
- Decide when to reopen, who should return to work, and how they should return.
- Adopt engineering, organizational and administrative measures to encourage social distancing. I already socially distance myself from cats.
- Create a plan for the way your facility should be cleaned and disinfected before reopening as well as on an ongoing basis.
- Figure out how to promote personal hygiene to keep workers safe and healthy.
- Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and inform workers about the correct use of such equipment.
- Offer health surveillance, such as taking screening temperatures at the door upon entry.
- Consider other potential hazards (such as emotional repercussions of all of the above). Provide assistance to help employees adapt to the “new normal.”
- Review emergency preparedness plans. Make changes, as necessary. I have an emergency plan for my doghouse.
- Update preventative and control measures as the situation evolves.
Check back to read part two of this series about National Safety Month.
About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System
We are committed to your safety. Our training helps with compliance to fire life safety codes and instantly issues a certificate to building occupants who complete the course! It’s a convenient and affordable solution designed to fit the training needs of your facility. Click here for more information or to subscribe.