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Workforce Health and Safety During COVID

a photo with yellow tape reading stop and a poster that says coronavirus, to protect workforce health and safety

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In order to protect each others’ health and safety, workforce readiness has become a two-way street. By law, employers must take steps to safeguard the health of employees and customers. But by the same token, employees must learn new rules and safety protocols for COVID-19 prevention, too. This is what it means to be workforce ready during the pandemic. For better or worse, we’re all in it together.

While the situation evolves, social distancing guidelines and opening rules change, too. It is not easy to keep track of it all. Revisit your approach and update your practices as needed to stay compliant with new laws and keep your workforce healthy. In this post, we outline a number of actions you can take to help get your employees ready for this new normal.

Ways to Protect Workforce Health and Safety

There quite a few steps employers can take to protect the health and safety of workers and their families. The great thing is, these steps protect customers, too. Some are required by law, others are just good practice. Many are things you’re probably already doing – or should be doing. You can think of this list as a checklist and use it look for gaps in your own processes.

Review policies to protect and support employees.

  • If you haven’t already, update your company policies for the new normal. Review them regularly to make sure they’re working for you, as well as make sure they’re aligned with the latest laws.
  • Help your workers comply with new regulations. This may include paid or unpaid leave and return-to-work requirements issued by your state.
  • If you use TimeForge as your Human Resources solution, distribute your new policies to your workforce quickly and easily.

Review and update your cleaning and sanitation practices.

  • Each industry has its own guidance from the CDC (see below).
  • If you use TimeForge as your Task Management or Team Execution solution, you can create a disinfection to-do list for your employees and track whether they’re staying on top of it.
  • For more tips, check out our suggestions for using task management in grocery and restaurants.

Adjust workspaces for social distancing and workforce safety.

  • Install protective barriers like plexiglass shields. This protects both counter staff and customers.
  • Provide for hand washing and keep hand sanitizers handy. To ensure compliance with your hand washing rules, you can use TimeForge to schedule and enforce 5-minute breaks for that purpose.
  • Adjust ventilation systems, if necessary. NOTE: This may be required by law in some areas.
  • Give suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) to staff. This may mean gloves, masks, and face shields, depending on your business.

Ensure new hires are workforce ready.

  • Do they know the current CDC guidelines and workforce safety best practices?
  • Do they understand the consequences of failing to adhere to the rules?
  • Consider tailoring our TimeForge Workforce Readiness Checklist for basic health and safety skills.
  • At onboarding, cover company best practices and industry specific protocols.

Refine and share guidelines, keep employees in the loop.

  • If you’re using TimeForge to manage schedules or track attendance, you can send messages to your team to keep them abreast of changes and important information. This works online or using the TimeForge Manager Mobile app on your smart phone.
  • Use TimeForge to send notices to the entire company or a select subset of employees and/or managers, too.
  • If you’re using our HR software, you can send your updated policies to your workforce and collect acknowledgements to ensure everyone is in-the-know.

Update employee data.

  • Make sure you’ve got up-to-date contact info for your workforce, such as current phone numbers and emergency contacts.
  • Depending on where your business operates, you may also be required to collect email addresses for contact tracing.
  • If you’re using TimeForge to manage your workforce, you can collect updated information easily. Employees can also log in and update their own internal profile with their latest cell phone number and current email.

Make it easy for employees to submit time off requests or pick up shifts.

  • Make sure your rules for requesting time off are clearly laid out and are in line with your local or state laws regarding COVID relief and prevention.
  • Use software to make it easy for workers to submit requests, whether to take time off or to pick up shifts.
  • Have employees confirm their shifts, so that your managers can plan accordingly.
  • If you’re using TimeForge, it’s easy for employees to request time off or to pick up available shifts. TimeForge won’t schedule employees for dates they’ve indicated they can’t work. At the same time, our software also supports want-to-work requests, shift swaps, and the ability to pick up open shifts, which can help managers ensure adequate labor coverage.

Promote and protect physical wellness and mental health.

  • Review your company policies and benefits regarding mental and physical well-being.
  • Consider offering fringe benefits that support workforce safety and health.
  • Keep a list of resources for employees and make sure they can access it easily online.
  • If you’re using TimeForge as your timeclock or timekeeping solution, you can enable temperature and health checks. When an employee attempts to clock in, they’ll be asked the 6 questions recommended by the CDC. If an employee fails the check, the manager is alerted to send them home and to disinfect the timeclock.

Be open and transparent; discourage intolerance at work.

  • Lead by example and be open and transparent when communicating with employees.
  • Encourage your teams to be open about their own struggles, too, as these can affect the business. If you can work together to find solutions, such as adjusting employees’ work hours or allowing shift swaps, you can promote workforce safety and ensure you have enough staff on hand.
  • Discourage COVID-related intolerance, bias, and judgment among your workforce. These things can only harm your employee morale.

Follow the latest CDC guidance.

  • Follow current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). You can find guidance on workplace and worker safety, employee travel, and workplace sanitation. The next section covers this in more detail.

Workplace Safety – Guidance from the CDC

To prevent COVID and maintain a safe and healthy workplace, the CDC has put out a number of resources on their website. Here are two areas likely to be of most relevance to you and your business:

Guidelines for Your Business Sector

The CDC also offers industry specific guidance. You can use these guidelines to revise your health and safety policies. For example:

Food Services

Hospitality

Workforce Safety is a Shared Responsibility

Maintaining a safe and healthy workforce is a shared responsibility. Today, workforce readiness means being ready to handle the challenges of COVID. Business leaders, managers, and employees must work together to ensure it’s safe to reopen and operate during the pandemic. To make things easier, you can rely on workforce management software like TimeForge.

TimeForge can help automate many otherwise time-consuming and difficult tasks, so that you can focus on the normal day-to-day operation of your business. Don’t believe us? Request a free, live demo of our software today. We won’t show you some premade slide deck: we’ll show you exactly how our software, in real time, can help keep your workforce safe, healthy, and ready to work. Whether you need a better team messaging solution, human resources tools, scheduling and more, we’ve got you covered.

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