Eight Effective Elements of COVID-19 Programs

Eight Effective Elements of COVID-19 Programs

OSHA recently released additional guidance on mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

As a responsible business owner, you’re tasked with ensuring a safe and healthy workplace. About a year ago, that directive became even more challenging as COVID-19 changed the landscape of health and safety.

By now, you most likely have plans in place regarding health and safety, but a review of those plans and procedures is always a good idea. OSHA recently released additional guidance on mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. As part of this guidance, OSHA highlighted areas where businesses were succeeding in their efforts.

Secrets to Success

Here are eight important elements of a successful program to consider:

  1. Assigning a workplace coordinator. Appoint a person to be responsible for COVID-19 issues specific to your shop. In larger facilities, you may need more than one coordinator or a support team. Make sure your employees know the coordinator’s name and have ways to communicate with them.
  2. Identifying where and how workers might be exposed to COVID-19 at work. As part of this assessment, identify potential workplace hazards related to the virus. Don’t forget to include employees in this assessment, as they will be able to share information specific to their job duties and work environment.
  3. Identifying measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. This combination of measures is similar to how your shop handles other hazards in the workplace, including eliminating the hazard, engineering controls, administrative policies, PPE and other measures. Specific to COVID-19, these measures include physical distancing, masks, good hygiene, and routine cleaning and disinfection.
  4. Strategizing protections for high-risk workers. Workers who are at higher risk for the disease include older adults and people with underlying medical conditions. When possible, consider additional protections and reasonable modifications for workers who are in these higher-risk categories. Better workplace ventilation is one option that could be considered for employees who have heart or lung vulnerabilities.
  5. Establishing a communication system to keep all workers informed. This includes not only telling employees, but also making sure that all workers understand these communications and that they’re in a language they can understand. Communication is a two-way street, so make sure your employees feel free to report potential exposures or hazards in the workplace. One OSHA recommendation is to create and test two-way communication systems that workers can use to self-report if they’re sick or have been exposed, and that employers can use to notify workers of exposures and closures.
  6. Educate and train workers on your shop’s COVID-19 policies and procedures. As always, any communication of workplace policies should be in plain language that workers can understand. Multiple methods of communication are the most effective. Examples include a combination of workplace posters and signage, email or paper communication and verbal communication. Talk about it in your weekly safety meetings and be available to answer questions. Some key things to communicate are basic facts about the virus, including how it is spread and the importance of physical distancing, face coverings and frequent handwashing, as well as your shop’s policies and procedures related to protecting workers. Make sure you document your communications. For example, if you communicate your COVID-19 policies in your weekly safety meeting, have everyone sign a log to confirm they have heard and understand what they learned in the meeting. If there are misunderstandings later, you can refer to this documentation.
  7. Telling infected or potentially infected workers to stay home and isolate or quarantine to prevent or reduce the risk of bringing a virus to your shop. You do not want employees coming to work sick and potentially spreading illness to staff and customers.
  8. Minimizing the negative impact of quarantine or isolation on workers. This can be challenging in an automotive shop, where telework is not generally feasible except for some administrative employees. But one OSHA suggestion would be to have an isolated employee work in an area away from others. Another suggestion is to allow workers to use paid sick leave. If you don’t currently have a paid sick leave policy, it may be something to consider, as it will reduce risk to everyone in the workplace.

Summary

As with most workplace health and safety programs, it’s not one big directive but rather the combination of several elements that make for the most successful initiatives. In our next column, we’ll give you eight more ways to make sure you’re doing everything you can to maintain that healthful workplace.

You May Also Like

Creating a Farm System of Future Employees

In baseball, a farm system is essential in creating a pipeline of successful players for the major leagues. The same goes for the collision repair industry.

In baseball, a farm system is essential in creating a pipeline of successful players for the major leagues. The same goes for the collision repair industry. If we create a strong program to generate interest in our industry among middle-school and high-school students and then mentor them through their education and training, we can ensure a healthy, skilled workforce for the future.

Protecting Your Employees from the Cold

It’s important to be aware of the risks of cold exposure and make sure your employees are protected as much as possible.

Becoming an Auto Body Technician’s Employer of Choice

Good help is hard to find, so how can you become a tech’s “shop of choice” and potentially make it easier?

Service King: On a Mission to Hire Military Veterans

Service King made it their mission to hire 500 military veterans six years ago, and are proud to say they’ve surpassed that goal.

Finding Techs: Cultivation, Training and Guidance

Finding and keeping the right people requires a comprehensive approach that starts with technical schools, includes on-the-job training, leverages a team culture and outlines a path to success.

Other Posts

Study Released on COVID’s Impact on Traffic Safety

A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that the number of traffic fatalities increased significantly in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Active Shooter: Taking Action During the Unthinkable

You may think you’re powerless to prevent an active shooter event from happening in your business, but you can be armed with the knowledge to take quick and smart action when faced with this type of situation.

Is Anger Why We’re “COVID Driving”?

If we all don’t slow down, we’re all going to get somewhere fast all right — a grave.

Retaining Collision Techs: Non-Qualified Benefits

Non-qualified benefits help your company protect itself against the loss of the people who make the most significant contributions.