We’re two months into 2021 and still in the middle of a pandemic where the race is on between vaccinations and new COVID-19 strains. Many of us are left wondering; What will the new normal look like when this passes us?
To be perfectly blunt, you’re looking at the new normal! For the next 3–5 years, the way we are doing business most likely won’t change. We will continue to operate with sanitization efforts, social distancing, and masks for the foreseeable future. Let’s figure out how to properly function rather than wait for a miracle that is far out of the realm of our control.
Using the swiss cheese model for risk reduction is by far the best approach to solving this problem. It allows organizations multiple, low costs methods of safety to put in place. I talk more about the swiss cheese model in another post. Still, to summarize, multiple payers of protection amplify each other when factoring in risk reduction. As a quick example of stacking risk mitigation layers;
- A daily self-assessment for all of your workers with a zero-tolerance policy for signs of COVID-19
- Hand sanitization stations positions around the workspace to allow easy access for workers to utilize
- Mandatory masks when working
Each of these three layers will fail at some point in time; the odds are that 1/10 times the layer needs to work, it won’t. Each of these layers is also independent of the others. You don’t need the masks to be worn in order for the self-assessments to function. This allows us to multiply the failure rates together, creating a 1/1000 chance of each layer failing independently.
Now that we’ve refreshed the swiss cheese concept, let’s talk about the years to come. There are clear signals that COVID-19 in the workplace will be a management issue, as the Biden administration enacts stricter enforcement systems using OSHA. We start to see enforcement officers performing random inspections and fining companies who do not do enough to protect their workers. These actions are in place because there is more at stake than the livelihood of your workers. If a worker contracts COVID-19 at your workplace and takes it home to their family, your workplace could become the next super spreader event. This won’t bode well for anyone involved.
Therefore, the regulation is ramping up, showing us the long-term investment that governments will be putting into keeping the population’s health and safety a top priority.
Beyond the enforcement and regulations, you’ll want to protect your workforce from a COVID outbreak as you have plenty to lose if one occurs. Due to COVID’s severe symptoms and staying power, if an outbreak were to occur, it could cripple your operation. This could leave many of your workers at home sick, risking your ability to generate revenue.
I talk a bit about this in my post-covid-19 vigilance post, where I draw a parallel to professional sports teams and their ability to win games. It doesn’t matter who has the best players or coaches. What matters is keeping your roster healthy so that you have these players on the bench every night. The best teams will be the ones who can accomplish this goal.
We’re all in this together. Let’s remember that this is a once-in-a-century pandemic. Nobody in the entire world has ever had to deal with managing a workforce and keeping them safe from a virus that has crippled the globe. Specifically at the economies of scale that we see today.
When you need to justify why a job is taking longer than it should or why you need to buffer the cost of a project, you can state, we do this so that we can keep our workers and your worker’s safe while on the job. The mere fact that you accounted for it should set you above the rest and shows your organization is the one to count on.
You may be struggling with COVID-19 employee self-assessments or questionnaires as required for compliance in most states. It’s difficult to determine a proper best practice between local, municipal, state, and federal guidelines!
If you’re collecting information manually or without immediate symptom notifications, there’s a much better way.
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