Staying Up-to-Date with Workplace Safety Regulations
The best way to be compliant is to be ready – and not surprised – by abrupt changes to workplace safety in 2020 and beyond.
How extreme are the changes? In 35 years’ experience in public safety and security – from serving in the U.S. Marine Corp to Homeland Security to direct major risk assessment and active shooter response training programs – I have not witnessed such fast, widespread system changes in organizational safety planning.
Every organization faces continually new operational hazards and scramble to meet new regulations. Guidelines keep evolving as COVID-19 research and data is made available, and experts predict multiple waves of infection before we see a vaccine. The one constant amidst all this change is the need to remain safety compliant.
Luckily, you don’t have to start from scratch. There are reputable schools of thought and best practices to consider.
It’s no small task staying up-to-date with new state and federal regulations. Still, your organization’s implementation and management of an ever-changing safety program shows a commitment to your people, and prioritizes safety as much as productivity and customer service.
The pandemic isn’t going away any time soon, so business leaders wonder if it’s possible to maintain compliance and prepare for what’s to come. I’ll show you how Navigate360 makes it possible to build a safety plan with precision, even in unpredictable times. For now, let’s start with three significant safety guidelines to keep your team safe for the long term.
Train Employees and Get Buy-in
Help employees understand the role they play in workplace safety. Without their buy-in, it’s far more difficult to prevent and reduce COVID-19 transmission among employees and maintain healthy business operations.
Train them to prepare for:
- Physical distancing
- General hygiene (regular handwashing, covering a cough, etc.)
- Staying home if they are sick
- What to do if they become sick at work
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces (doorknobs, lightswitches, etc.)
- Stress management
If your employees are unable to work from home, wearing face masks to the office is by far one of the easiests safety precautions they can take to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Consider requiring masks for all employees as well as for customers and other visitors. Provide them to the workers at no cost.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) cites several studies showing how people can transmit the virus to others before experiencing symptoms. This means that even if your entire staff feels well, they can unknowingly spread the virus around the office through speaking, coughing or sneezing. Face masks will greatly reduce that possibility and increase protection.
Revisit Building Systems
Engineering controls for heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems, can reduce the spread of the virus. For example, unconditioned spaces and/or major temperature changes may lower resistance to infection. Prepare your facility by inspecting these applicable items before employees return to work:
- Increase ventilation rates.
- Disable demand-controlled ventilation (DCV).
- Further open minimum outdoor air dampers (as high as 100%) to reduce or eliminate recirculation (NOTE: this may be difficult in cold or hot weather).
- Improve the central air filter to a MERV-13 or the highest compatible filter, and seal edges of the filter to limit bypass.
- Check filters to ensure they are within service life and appropriately installed.
- Keep systems running longer hours, 24/7 if possible, to enhance air exchanges in the building space.
For additional ventilation recommendations, visit the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) COVID-19 preparedness resources page.
Workplace Safety Plan
If your organization created a workplace safety plan six months ago, chances are none of the three things I just listed were included. COVID-19 wasn’t prevalent in the US at that point, so it wasn’t something you prepared for. This is why it’s imperative to update workplace safety plans at least every year, and if your company doesn’t have one, now is the time to create one.
There’s so much we can learn from the COVID-19 pandemic. It has exposed limitations and/or weaknesses in service delivery, training (both safety-related and general job cross-training), remote data security and so much more. Updating your Workplace Safety Plan in 2020 will help fill in the gaps so you’re better prepared to move forward with confidence in an uncertain world.
The best plans start with an expert partner who can establish a foundation of safety. Navigate360’s certified Safety and Risk Assessment professionals perform in-depth site visits, conduct interviews and collect data to define potential issues at your workplace. Analysis includes:
- Risk Assessment
- Our Physical Security Professional (PSP) uncovers hidden threats to safety and security across six critical areas. You receive a comprehensive report that outlines our findings as well as recommendations for remediation so you can take meaningful action.
- Vulnerability Assessment
- As a follow-up to a full Risk Assessment, we test the physical safety of your facility and procedures to determine whether your improvements meet the detailed recommendations.
- Security Audit
- This is a current-state audit that identifies security risks and current measures used to prevent and mitigate those risks. It’s less intensive, the Security Audit should be performed at intervals of a Risk Assessment.
No two workplaces are exactly alike. Safety and security analysis lays the groundwork for a plan that is specific to your organization, identifies jobs/individuals with risk of exposure to COVID-19, and explains how to eliminate or reduce exposure.
Safety and security analysis services establish a foundation of safety. So no matter what comes next – pandemic, social unrest, workplace violence or otherwise – a safety plan prepares your organization for an ever-changing world.
Be proactive. Be prepared.
Talk to Navigate360.
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