More than a year into the pandemic and businesses are still getting affected to a huge extent. Learning to live with the new normal is the attitude many businesses are rightly adopting, however, with more and more COVID-19 waves hitting us, the challenges related to reopening operations are likely to continue for the coming months. While many states are reopening and lifting the lockdown, for businesses to restart and call their employees at the worksite still needs many considerations and preparations.
It is understandable that some industries can’t afford to have remote work options forever. For instance, industries like manufacturing, construction, and logistics are mostly worker-centric and require the employees to work from the site. This means there is no option to work from home for them. Thus, there is a need to make safety and good health the new normal.
If you are planning to reopen your business, your topmost priority right now must be protecting your employees and keeping them safe. Pulse presents to you some of the things that you can keep in mind before taking the big step to resuming work at sites:
1. Be ready for new normal
The new normal is safety and health and the need of the hour is to completely adopt new ways towards it. Before you reopen for operations, ask yourself if your workplace is ready with all safety measures, risk management, and employee training? Are you ready to expand your general safety rules and guides? Do you have all the state guidelines and compliance documents with you? Is there a proper arrangement for tests and sanitization in case an incident occurs?
Manufacturing units and construction sites can become a hub for infections to spread if all these things are not taken care of. Hence, new safety protocols need to be introduced to ensure a safer environment for your workers. At the same time, prepare your workers for the new reality and empower them with easy to understand information.
2. Conduct a risk assessment
It is suggested that you perform a risk assessment to understand the measures you might need to take. Understand the exposures by performing a walkthrough. Pay attention to areas where you expect people to gather. Make a note of high-risk people and what you can do to keep them safe. Prepare your staff and sanitization team for any incident. Always keep a backup ready. Dividing the team is a good option too. You can also use an app like Pulse which provides 90 days free COVID-19 management and risk assessment.
3. Prevent the spread using COVID-19 checklists
Before you call back the workers, plan your strategies and preventive measures. Using multiple carefully curated COVID-19 checklists on Pulse can help you understand the high-risk areas and inspect all other conditions at your workplace. You can then decide the safety measures and corrective measures needed by assessing the insightful real-time reports on Pulse. These checklists not just empower your workers but also ensure your strategies are future safe.
4. Train and retrain
While many strategies and protocols look good on paper, in the chaos of daily operations, compliance can take a hit. Hence, it pays off well to spend some resources on employee training along with regular retraining sessions. Train your employees about COVID safety and protocols, and share crucial resources with them.
5. Establish procedures
Establish basic protocols in accordance with changing times and inform the employees. There has to be an SOP for workers who get tested positive. Prepare strategies for contact tracing, cleaning schedules, and reduce the number of visitors. You can reduce the number of entry and exit gates, offer the flexibility of timings to workers or call them in shifts, and of course, promote social distancing during working hours. You can further use the social distancing communal areas checklist, post-cleaning site visit checklist, and return to work checklists.
Further, as per your industry, also conduct industry-specific inspections and preparations. For instance, in manufacturing businesses, machinery will also have to be cleaned and sanitized regularly.
6. Flexible working hours
New problems require new solutions. It is not business as usual after all. Many organizations are now implementing different work shifts to reduce the number of people on-site and keep them safe. Rotational shifts are a great way to reduce risks. Whether it is staggered arrival and departure or alternate day work schedules, you need to pick what works best for your business so that productivity is not compromised.
7. Digitalization of EHS
Understandably, with more protocols comes the need for more inspections and streamlined data storage. Thus, advanced EHS software has become extremely crucial during these times. EHS software not only helps in the automation of processes but also makes it possible for you to do many tasks remotely such as performance tracking, risk assessment, and report analysis.
With the Pulse app, you can quickly upload, share and access photos of the specific site or issue there. One person can conduct the inspection, upload the details and share it with stakeholders without the need to physically meet all the people and putting everyone at risk.
Some COVID-19 checklists that can be beneficial:
- Employee screening checklist: This one is to assess the wellbeing of your workers and to make COVID-19 symptom reporting more streamlined.
- COVID-19 preparedness: This checklist helps in ensuring that your organization follows the recommended state guidelines and regulations to control the spread.
- Daily site checks: This checklist is a daily site inspection to ensure COVID protocols like masking, social distancing, etc are being followed.
- Sanitation inspection: This checklist is to record your sanitation schedules so that no areas are missed.
- Employee temperature log: This sheet keeps a track record of employee’s temperature before they enter the job site.