Pandemic Safety and Return to Work Support
The Impact of COVID-19 on Worker Safety: One year in.
It has been a year since the COVID-19 pandemic really started to affect everyone around the world. I don’t think any of us would have believed a year ago that we would still be dealing with it and certainly could not have predicted the impacts it has had on businesses.
The bad news is the pandemic is still here and will be for the foreseeable future. But there is good news, too. COVID-19 has greatly hastened the digitization of health and safety programs and this transformation will continue to create value long after the pandemic is over.
The Pandemic as a Driver to the Digital Transformation of your Health and Safety Program
As providers of worker health and safety solutions, Field Safe was in a unique position when COVID hit to respond to the almost constant change (and confusion) the pandemic created and its impact on safety programs. Every country, state, province and municipal government… not to mention industry governing associations and companies themselves… quickly implemented protocols to ensure worker safety. But because of the sheer volume of the requirements and how quickly they changed, it was incredibly difficult to ensure compliance with the latest requirements and know you were doing everything possible to protect your people.
Recognizing that technology was key to success, companies turned to Field Safe. Together, we determined four key questions that, when answered positively, were a good indicator that you were doing everything reasonably possible to ensure the safety of your people whether working from home, the office, at site, or in transit somewhere in between, and ensuring compliance with every regulation.
Answer Four Basic Questions to Protect Your People and Protect Your Bottom Line
One year later, our clients report that these are still the core four questions from a worker health and safety perspective specific to the pandemic.
We asked our newer clients… those that specifically partnered with Field Safe to digitize their workforces in response to the pandemic as a driver… how they addressed these questions before they had a digital solution, and how that has changed since implementing technology. Here is what we learned.
1. Do I know where my people are and what they are doing?
This has always been a challenge for companies with field workers, but COVID-19 elevated the importance of instantly understanding worker location and fitness for duty. Before digitizing their workers, most clients reported relying on phone calls and emails to maintain contact. This was hindered by lack of cell coverage and a tendency for workers to forget to check in when they were engrossed in a project. By providing easy to use technology and automating processes, they can now track people, understand what they are working on at any given time and communicate instantly with them.
One of the biggest impacts clients cited as a result of the pandemic is that social distancing has led to an increase in lone workers. Where, prior to COVID, teams traveled to site in the same vehicle or gathered together once at site they can no longer do this.
Working alone creates an even higher degree of safety risk, not to mention the need to understand and comply with the additional regulations designed to ensure lone worker safety.
Because they have moved to a digital solution, the clients who experienced this increase in lone workers are able to nimbly respond to these new risks and ensure compliance with all lone worker regulatory requirements.
2. Have I developed protocols and procedures to keep workers safe?
One of the first COVID-19 safety protocols to be introduced was the daily pre-assessment checklist to identify individuals exhibiting symptoms or anyone exposed to the virus. Most clients tell us that completing the forms manually was relatively successful but understanding and acting on the data was difficult.
Digitizing the completion of the checklists creates real-time sharing of data. Field Safe is being used by a number of clients to immediately advise “at risk” individuals on the course of action they need to take. Additionally, given the huge volume of forms completed daily, responses are automatically sorted with only those requiring action submitted to pre-determined team members to incorporate into activities like workforce planning, contact tracing and other initiatives.
One client operating a large worksite with several thousand workers has created several different checklists beyond the daily COVID pre-assessment. Forms are being used to track and confirm that sanitization procedures are being completed in various locations throughout their camp including vehicles, housekeeping and kitchens. The same client also implemented an education system where workers can ask head office to send reminders if they note any areas where they may have seen a weakening of protocol compliance. These are communicated in the spirit of education, versus a punitive measure, and because of this the reminders are positively received.
3. Have I effectively trained my people on our protocols and procedures?
Some clients reported that the pre-technology process for educating and updating teams on ever changing pandemic protocols and procedures was typically by email or as part of a tailgate meeting at site. While these meetings are still an important part of any safety program, with technology updates can be instantly shared and safety documentation kept current and available “just in time” eliminating confusion as to what the most current regulations, protocols and procedures are for any circumstance.
One of our “COVID-inspired” clients reports they are currently uploading an average of 3 safety bulletins per day, with many of these specific to almost daily changes in travel protocols and pre-airline boarding testing requirements. Manually communicating this number of updates and ensuring all workers read and understood all of them just would not have been possible.
4. Am I monitoring compliance with our protocols and procedures?
Tracking and proving compliance has been described by our clients as being virtually impossible prior to digitizing their workforces. Clients report it was mostly trust based. Now, with technology, digital reports provide proof of everything from completion of daily required forms, to individual’s participation in COVID-19 specific training sessions.
Especially important, several clients noted that they could not have met the reporting requirements of their clients and may very well have lost business if they had not moved to a digital solution that enabled real-time reporting.
The digital transformation of health and safety programs should be top of mind for all organizations invested in driving business improvements and improving worker safety. If you would like to understand more about how a digital solution can help save time, save money and save lives, we invite you to contact us by calling 1-800-497-7614 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org