Ensure Workplace Safety from COVID-19 with Best Health Management Practices
With the spread of COVID-19 still persistent around the world, all economies are facing hard times. Businesses need to get back to operating at a full swing to help the economy recover. In fact, they are seen as a great way for nations to sustain their national income growth amid fighting a health pandemic. However, a huge problem to be solved is determining how businesses can operate normally without having their staff and clients exposed to the risk of COVID-19.
The goal for businesses now is to have their ISO 45001: 2018 occupational health and safety management systems modified to include preparedness plans and policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. While most organizations have an ISO regulated occupational health and safety (OHS) management system to protect their workers from accidental hazards or any unexpected health risks, it usually doesn’t include any preventive measures to contain pandemic causing diseases like COVID-19. The world is not accustomed to situations like this one and never expected anything to totally disrupt business functions in this way. Because COVID-19 is an infection that spreads quickly through direct social contact, it was challenging for business establishments to remain opened and allow people to gather at work.
However, with time, businesses realized that this health outbreak situation is not going away soon, so they need to spring back into operations with all necessary precautionary measures in place. With sufficient preventive actions incorporated into their OHS management practices, employers will be able to contain the spread of COVID-19 virus between staff, customers, vendors, and everyone else they come in direct contact with daily. Here are some actions to take to ensure safety against Covid-19.
Conduct Regular Health Checkups
To ensure that no infected employee is unknowingly allowed to enter the workplace and infect others, your organization needs to have regular health checkup booths at the entry. Monitor their health for general symptoms and body temperature, and also confirm whether are wearing a mask. While implementing regular health screening, also make sure to follow protocols of local or national global health authorities such as maintaining distances between employees with barriers/partitions, wearing PPE (personal protection equipment) to prevent contact by screening staff, and frequent sanitization of booths. Organizations with bigger workforces must maintain multiple booths for health screening to prevent crowding.
Identify Risks of COVID-19 Exposure and Impose Measures
You need to identify the zones in your workplace where workers have high chances of being exposed to COVID-19. It may be at customer kiosks for services organizations or any particular work process where many workers are working closely together. To prevent spreading of infections in such settings, strict administrative restrictions and preventative policies are required. Some of them may be the use of PPEs, frequent sanitizing of surfaces, tools, devices or systems used by workers, and following of social distancing norms as much as possible.
Ensure Administration and Assessment of OHS Practices
Even if you have identified risky work areas and processes in your organization and provided workers with appropriate administrative controls and procedures to prevent spreading the virus, you need to evaluate whether they are followed and effective. As a responsible employer, you need to be aware of all imposed OHS standards by the WHO and other health authorities for COVID-19 and determine which will apply to your specific work processes and employees. Determine the perfect type of PPE or face shields, gloves and masks required for them and provide training to them on the proper use of each. Also, periodically check whether each employee is cooperating and using every preventive control provided. You need to take strict disciplinary actions against anyone breaking the protection norms and creating risks for others.
Take Responsible Actions for Sick Employees
It shouldn’t be a surprise if anyone gets sick while traveling to or from work, and then unknowingly arrives to work showing symptoms of Coronavirus. While the person must be immediately kept in isolation or sent home with safe transportation, you also should contact the closest health authority to know the next steps to take. Seek necessary assistance from experts to know how best to contact trace and sanitize your workplace to ensure the virus doesn’t spread further. Following all these health protocols set forth by local authorities will help your employees to feel safe in the workplace.
Cleaning and Sanitization Protocols
Clean and sanitize the entire workplace in 2-3 days interval following the recommendations provided by health authorities. Some are recommending to clean dirty surfaces first with soap water and then with disinfectants, wearing gloves or protective gowns, and instructing workers to maintain personal cleanliness through regular hand washing and sanitization.
Health Policy Reformation
A major modification that you need in your occupational health and safety policy is the inclusion of COVID-19 insurance. That is needed to motivate and boost the morale of employees when they are reluctant to leave their homes and travel to work. Other reformations needed is an increased allotment of sick leave, because if any employee or someone in his/her family gets infected, it will require at least 14 days to curtain the danger period).
Introduce Transport Allowances and Flexible Work Hours
To facilitate the commutate of workers with least potential exposure to COVID-19, either provide them with pickup and drop off service with private cars or give them allowances so that they can arrange for their own safe transportation. For employees who can perform their tasks remotely without any issues and communicate smoothly through virtual setups, provide them with equipment to work-from-home. If neither of these options is possible, you should consider introducing flexible working hours for your employees so that they can choose the most suitable, non-peak hours to commute to and from work and avoid crowds in public transportation.
The situation of COVID-19 is not going to fade away anytime soon, so what businesses need most is to update and reform their ISO 45001: 2018 occupational health and safety management systems to include key practices for effective pandemic management now as well as in the future.
If you are looking for some guidance to get your OHS management system certified and ensure its responsiveness to COVID-19, occupational health and safety experts will help. Get in touch with Compliancehelp Consulting LLC for any assistance on certifying or revising your OHS management system to ensure safety and wellness of your valuable employees.
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