- Many employees are concerned about safety and COVID-19 as they return to the workplace.
- As companies prepare for their employees to return to work, they need to create a strategy to keep them safe and alleviate fears.
- J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc., a workplace safety and compliance solutions and consulting firm,offers resources to help businesses update existing policies and prepare for future disruption.
While businesses are taking measured steps to fully reopen, it’s unlikely they’ll return to normal operations anytime soon, if at all.
Workers expect their employers to have procedures for social distancing, disinfecting, reporting concerns, and other safety measures. Many are worried about returning to work during the pandemic, consultants at J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc., a workplace safety and compliance solutions and consulting firm, found through conversations with customers.
Now is the time to reevaluate your company’s safety and risk approach to ensure you can operate effectively while protecting your workforce. Here are recommendations that can help as you plan to go back to work and have long-lasting benefits.
Assign one point person for a disaster
If you haven’t done so already, assign one person to monitor back-to-work metrics and changes in guidance, says Steve Murray, vice president of content and consulting services at J. J. Keller. This eliminates confusion among employees and streamlines processes so that critical steps can be taken confidently, swiftly, and effectively.
Organizations should also designate a company official for fact-finding and disseminating critical information regarding COVID-19 updates. This person would be responsible for regularly checking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and other sources to stay informed of the latest news. Doing so will ensure the best guidance is available and followed. In a future disaster, delegate these responsibilities at the outset.
Do a thorough policy review
Murray advises organizations to scrutinize all operations and HR policies to ensure they are relevant for going back to work amid COVID-19. If changes are made, they must be clearly and quickly disseminated to all managers and employees.
It can be daunting, as dozens of compliance and regulatory requirements, as well as company policies and procedures, must be examined and possibly revised. To aid in this process, companies may consider leveraging third-party resources with tools, policies, and expert information for creating safe, productive, and compliant workplaces.
One resource is the J. J. Keller® Safety Management Suite, which offers access to expert-curated content spanning hundreds of compliance topics, including pandemic preparation and response, injury and illness recordkeeping, and reporting.
Maintaining access to such a comprehensive resource enables employers to quickly amend and update their policies and procedures to adjust to a rapidly changing crisis, like the pandemic, he says.
“No single plan for reopening can provide all of the steps needed to reopen every business,” Murray says. “Each employer must decide what measures are necessary based on the nuances of their operations, as well as state and local requirements.”
Whether or not guidelines are changing in a crisis, workers expect regular communication. They want reassurance that their employer can keep them safe upon returning to work, so companies must precisely explain what measures are in place, outline a process and contact person for reporting concerns, and anticipate likely questions. Among other things, companies should describe their procedures for social distancing, disinfecting, and temperature screening — and what to do if a coworker gets sick.
Revisit your business-continuity plan
While your organization may already have a business-continuity plan, it should be reassessed in the COVID-19 aftermath, Murray says. Review guidelines for identifying essential workers and critical business operations, and lay out what to do to maintain operations if key people and resources are unavailable.
It should also identify key contacts and backups, verify chains of communications with suppliers and customers, and create a process for tracking and communicating business and employee status.
Also, be sure to explain scenarios for a potential second wave of the pandemic, which could lead to surges in absenteeism because of illness or family commitments.
Ensure safety always comes first
The pandemic has proved that safety must be the purview of every employee, not just the environmental health and safety team. Organizations must implement rules that make this clear to everyone. To help, J. J. Keller’s safety-plan templates have been updated with content and tools for navigating COVID-19, including back-to-work policies, such as checklists, up-to-date monitoring and news, incident reporting strategies, and best-practice tips that support the health and well-being of the workforce.
“A multifaceted plan will help you adapt to an ever-changing situation in a way that supports the entire organization,” Murray says.
While the current crisis must command your team’s full attention, as it likely has not yet waned, be sure to devote time to getting back to work safely and creating forward-thinking policies. The health of your workers, and of the business itself, may depend on it.
Learn more about how J. J. Keller can help your business build a safety strategy.
This post was created by Insider Studios with J. J. Keller.