As COVID-19 cases surge nationwide, employers have a responsibility to ensure they have a safe work environment for employees. All it takes are some simple, commonsense measures that can be taken by everyone to minimize risks in the workplace.
As I mentioned in previous COVID-related blogs, wearing facemasks, frequent handwashing and social distancing until there is a vaccine will help protect the workforce. Once a plan has been developed and communicated and everyone has been trained, employers need to enforce and re-enforce the steps being taken to keep people safe. Your employees put their lives in your hands. Taking a course of action to protect them sends a great message not just to them, but also to their families, the community, and the industry.
Some additional considerations for a safety plan include:
- Increasing disinfecting procedures at work stations and throughout the company.
- Requiring employees to work at home or staggering work schedules.
- Eliminating large work gatherings.
- Limiting nonessential travel for employees and using technology when possible.
- Providing personal protective equipment if required.
Posters, signage, certification forms and training are great ways to communicate your plan.
If you’re considering testing employees, it may help stop the spread of the virus and ease employees’ concerns. Before beginning screening, however, check with an HR consultant or legal counsel for advice. If an employee tests positive, you will have to identify everyone the employee has had contact with at work, have the employee and those who had contact with the employee self-quarantine for 14 days, and have the business thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. The business may have to close temporarily until the cleaning process is completed. Communication, understanding and patience will be needed.
Business owners also need to track all the company’s visitors, whether they are suppliers, vendors, clients or customers. Each could be an unsuspecting carrier of the virus.
This also is a great time to review your business continuity plan, with a focus on the environmental and economic aspects.
In Massachusetts, the number of new COVID-19 cases has been increasing since Labor Day. Last week, Gov. Charlie Baker ordered new restrictions to try to reduce the surge.
The new rules require:
- Residents to stay at home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., except to go to work, take a walk or tend to emergencies.
- Face masks to be worn in public, even when social distancing is possible. Exceptions will be made for those who can’t wear a mask because of a medical condition, but employers may require employees to provide proof of the condition.
- Restaurants to stop in-person dining at 9:30 p.m., though takeout and delivery are allowed.
- Liquor stores and other businesses that sell alcohol to close at 9:30 p.m.
- Many recreational and entertainment businesses, including movie theaters, sports activities and fitness centers, and businesses providing close-contact personal services, to close at 9:30 p.m.
- Private gatherings to be limited to 10 indoors and 25 outdoors.
Your reputation as an employer who cares and has sensible protocols can make you the employer of choice in these times. Be a company where people want to work and choose to work. This is an opportunity to build greater rapport and enhance your reputation.
In short, an employer needs to stay on top of what is going on with the virus. Make sure you have plans in place. Revisit those plans to ensure they are working and adjust them when and where needed. Enforce the rules when folks get complacent. If there is an outbreak, be on top of it. Make sure there is containment and that you notify all involved, for the safety of your employees and their loved ones.
We’re on the radio
Darlene Corbett and I invite you to join us on “Connections Count” at 1 p.m. Mondays on Unity Radio 97.9 FM. The show also can be found on Unity Radio’s website at https://www.wuty979fm.org/monday. Would you like to be a guest on our show? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming 50+ Job Seekers Networking meetings
The 50+ Job Seekers Networking workshops are being held on Zoom. The virtual meetings, which run from 10 a.m. to noon, are:
- Nov. 24: Network Your Way to a New Career
- Dec. 8: Create a Marketing Plan/Job Search Toolbox
- Dec. 15: Panel event: Practice Interviewing with Employers
The registration page for first-time participants is at https://mcoaonline.com/employment/50-plus-job-seeker-networking-groups/.
If you have a question about a Human Resources topic, contact me at email@example.com