In areas heavily affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, it feels like lockdowns have gone on forever. However, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Many states have begun to ease coronavirus restrictions, allowing more businesses to open their doors.
This presents a new safety challenge. As you bring your operation back online, you need to reassure your employees that they can safely return to your facility. That way, you can quickly return to full staffing levels, and provide the support necessary to reach pre-coronavirus levels of production.
Successfully transitioning back to normal production will involve a two-step process. First, you need to take the necessary steps to make your workplace as protected from COVID-19 as possible. Second, the endeavor also requires that you provide the necessary information to your staff, so that they will feel comfortable returning to work. Here are some steps to keep in mind:
Evaluate the Risks
Your first step as you prepare for a return to work: evaluate your risk levels. Not all businesses face the same danger of coronavirus infection. Some details will depend on your location, and the extent to which coronavirus infection impacted your community.
Your specific business matters as well. OHSA has prepared a guide for preparing workplaces to battle the coronavirus. It outlines four levels of threat for the illness:
Very High Risk: Occupations where you are likely to come in contact with people infected with coronavirus and perform tasks that require close contact. This includes certain healthcare workers, lab personnel, and morgue workers.
High Risk: Occupations that have a high likelihood of contact with infected people. Jobs in this category includes things like healthcare support workers and medical transport personnel.
Medium Risk: Occupations that require close contact with people who may have SARS-CoV-2 (the technical term for this strain of coronavirus), but aren’t suspected of having COVID-19. This could include workers who have contact with travelers from international locations, or people whose jobs require contact with the general public. Workplaces like schools and retail stores fall into this category.
Low Risk: Occupations that don’t require contact with either suspected COVID patients or the general public. So, if you operate an office or a factory, this would include your workplace.
Create a Plan
Once you assess your level of risk, you can prepare a detailed plan to get your workplace ready. Knowledge is the key to developing the right procedure, so do your research. Use OSHA’s guide and other reliable sources to determine the best procedures for your precise business.
From there, you can create a step-by-step program for minimizing the risk of infection. It should involve a thorough process for getting the workplace fit for employees to return, as well as providing them the necessary PPE to operate effectively. Additionally, you should formulate an ongoing set of procedures and policies to keep your workplace at the maximum safety standards for the long haul.
Communicate Regularly with Employees
Once you have a plan in place, you need to communicate it effectively with your employees. Remember: you don’t just need to prepare the best-possible anti-COVID procedure. You need to satisfy your employees that they will be safe returning to work.
Here are a couple steps to keep in mind:
Provide Detailed Information: Your workers have a right to know they are safe. Provide as much information as you can. Share your research with them and explain the reasoning behind each step. This may be more than you can share in a one-on-one conversation, so create online resources where they can learn more on their own time.
Prepare for Questions: No matter how much information you share, your employees will probably want to know more. Get ready for follow-up questions. Create a procedure for dealing with those queries in a sensitive and efficient way.
Ask for Feedback: Make your employees feel like part of the process. Find out how your new safety precautions will impact your workers’ day-to-day tasks. From there, you can find the best way to maximize both safety and production.
Provide Updates: The coronavirus outbreak has been an evolving situation from the start. Government restrictions and recommendations have changed as conditions developed, and this process will likely continue as things return to normal. Anticipate that you’ll have to revise your plans in the future and create a system that keeps your employees up-to-date.
Safety should be a top priority for every business. The COVID-19 outbreak has added a new wrinkle to this ongoing challenge. However, the basic truth remains: safety gets easier when you have the right staff in place. Partnering with a top-ranked staffing firm, like Recruiting In Motion, lets you find the knowledgeable, conscientious workers you need to maximizing safety, while still reaching the highest levels of output.