The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed the way Americans – and people throughout the world – work. Millions of Americans are now working from home. This is true for employees in a variety of industries, including supervisors in labor-intensive companies.
According to a study performed by the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas, Texas, the number of Americans working from home spiked soon after COVID-19 hit. The study found that in February 2020, only 8.2% of respondents worked from home. However, by May 2020, that percentage jumped to 35.2%. While most front-line workers do not have the option to work from home, management in these companies continued to operate remotely, even when facilities were closed.
In many states and municipalities, social distancing restrictions are still in place that might make companies like yours – even after reopening – require safety managers and supervisors to work from home. Additionally, you may have furloughed frontline workers to meet your state or local social distancing requirements.
What challenges are team members facing as they perform remote supervision? How can you safely integrate them back into the warehouse, factory, or job site when it’s time to return? How do you reintegrate furloughed workers while keeping your workplace free of a COVID-19 outbreak? Continue reading to learn how HR managers, safety managers, and supervisors who work for labor-intensive companies are dealing with this issue.
Plan for Employee Wellness Screens
Whether or not you’re required to perform temperature and COVID-19 symptom screenings in your city or state, it’s a good idea to do so. Catching an infected person and sending them home for medical treatment will help to reduce the spread of the virus throughout your workplace.
When performing employee wellness screenings at your job site’s point of entry and transportation sites, the Centers for Disease Control recommends you:
Screen employees for fevers, which are defined as temperatures at or above 100.4℉.
Ask employees if they are waiting for the results of their own COVID-19 test.
Inquire if employees who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 have been medically cleared to return to work.
Check to see if any employees are experiencing new or unexpected symptoms of COVID-19.
These employee wellness checks help companies like yours put up a strong defense against having a COVID-19 outbreak in the workplace. Depending on your job site’s location, and the amount of physical distance your employees are able to maintain, it may be beneficial to perform these wellness checks multiple times per day. Automation of these checks is also highly recommended to streamline the speed with which employees enter the building each day, and reduce the risk of impacting productivity.
Monitor Employees who are COVID-19 Symptomatic or Test Positive and Communicate Exposure Risks
With over 7 million Americans having currently tested positive for COVID-19, the question isn’t if you’ll have an employee develop symptoms of the virus, but when. As you end remote supervision and welcome all employees back to work, you need to have a plan in place for monitoring those who are symptomatic or test positive, all while performing contact tracing.
First, you need to set up designated isolation spaces throughout your workplace for employees who either fail wellness screenings or become symptomatic while at work. While the best-case scenario is to send these employees home to get tested and receive medical care, be aware these employees may carpool with coworkers or use commuter buses, and therefore, are unable to leave the workplace immediately. On the other hand, symptomatic employees may have their own form of transportation but are too ill to drive themselves home. Designated isolation spaces will enable you to keep the rest of your team safe from exposure.
Second, you need to have a system in place for contact tracing for when one of your employees does test positive. While many states are performing their own contact tracing, it may take days or weeks to complete. Performing contact tracing internally helps you to easily identify which employees may have been exposed to COVID-19 and need to isolate at home.
Finally, consider implementing a digital andon cord to communicate with your employees that someone in your workplace has tested positive for COVID-19, especially if you know certain employees were in contact with that individual. Our software and apps have this functionality in place so that you can quickly and easily alert necessary personnel at one time, whether they are already back at the workplace or are still telecommuting.
Remember, COVID-19 Prevention is Key in Today’s Workplaces
COVID-19 restrictions are provided to help stop the spread of the disease. Regardless of whether your city has mandated regulations, it makes smart business sense to do everything possible to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks at your workplace – which could not only endanger your employees but result in expensive shut-downs.
Recommended COVID-19 precautions, in addition to the wellness screenings discussed above, include:
Making PPE available to your employees, and requiring mask-wearing unless an employee has a medical condition or job requirement that prevents them from doing so.
Creating cleaning checklists for your janitorial staff to complete multiple times a day.
Whenever possible, having employees maintain at least 6 feet of social distance on the floor.
Reducing capacity in shared locations, such as building entrances, cafeterias, and restrooms.
We Can Help You Get Back to Work Safely
We know that it’s important to get your employees back to the workplace as soon and as safely as possible. That’s why we’ve created Safely Pass, which allows your employees to self-report wellness screening data, create Safely workspaces for highly-trafficked areas, and communicate with anyone affected when an employee becomes symptomatic or tests positive for COVID-19. Click here to learn more about the Safely app and for links to download it from the App Store and Google Play.