Businesses that are re-opening or expanding from limited operations want to be safe. Wanting to be safe is important, but not enough, especially these days. Keeping a safe workplace for workers and customers until we get COVID-19 under control requires even more planning than usual, because there are more health-related risks than usual. No business wants to be part of a coronavirus case spike.
American workers and businesses usually depend on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, known as OSHA, for workplace safety guidance and oversight. Now, when businesses and workers need OSHA’s help to implement safety guidance, little assistance is being provided, according to a report from NPR’s Weekend Edition on July 4th. You can listen to the whole story about OSHA inaction on the thousands of COVID-related complaints OSHA has received here – https://www.npr.org/2020/07/04/887239204/many-say-osha-not-protecting-workers-during-covid-19-pandemic.
This news is unbelievably bad for American workers and businesses who are essentially left on their own to figure out how to protect their people and keep their doors open. Knowing where to start is daunting, so here are three tips for getting started to keep your workplace safe during COVID-19:
- Review Available Resources
Even though direct federal safety oversight is not available, written guidance is online from OSHA and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). You will have to review it yourself, determine what parts apply to you, and how to make any necessary adjustments. A good place to start is OHSA’s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 at https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf. Check out these sites for more information – https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/controlprevention.html and https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/office-buildings.html.
- Engage Your Team
Gather your team to share the safety planning workload and to get different perspectives on what will be effective for your operations under the new COVID-19 scenario. People who do the work provide the best insight about the impact of operational changes. Talk through different situations you and your team will encounter to help you identify where changes need to be made.
- Assess Your Operations
Use the OSHA and CDC guidance and your team’s insights to perform a coronavirus safety review specific to your business. The goal of the review is to identify gaps that need some adjustment under COVID-19. Walk through your workspace with your team to see how work areas and public spaces should be adjusted for physical distancing, high-touch surfaces that need frequent cleaning, protective equipment requirements, etc., etc.
Businesses that are re-opening or expanding from limited operations need help being safe for workers and customers. Use these three tips to get started on the daunting task of keeping your workplace safe under the new COVID-19 scenario.