Workplace Safety & COVID-19 by Michael Fackler

Published: August 26, 2020

By Michael Fackler

Despite the rapid global spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, essential workers have continued to report to their jobs daily, risking their health and the health of their families. Safety has always been a priority in the world of construction, but now, safety has taken on a whole new meaning. These are unprecedented times, and yet, at Trinity Safety Group, we find ourselves already prepared to address any challenge through the lens of fostering a safer workplace.

Trinity Safety Group has been helping to train, staff, and strategize with construction companies and their teams since 2002, helping us to become one of the most trusted safety advisors in the region. Like everyone else, we are learning to address the new and unexpected challenges presented by COVID-19. Here are our tips on how you can keep your employees safe while on the job.

People First

Under normal circumstances, it can be easy to rely on your employees to remember their years (and sometimes decades) of training required to remain safe on the job site. Ordinarily, you would be able to shift your focus to your clients and towards managing the completion of the project. Now, during unprecedented times, more than ever, employers cannot forget to check in with their employees to ensure that all their needs and concerns regarding COVID-19 are being met.

At Trinity, we know the power of human connection and have seen firsthand the influence teamwork can have on the safety of a workplace. Because of this, we encourage our clients to take a People First approach to safety, emphasizing that safety is largely dependent on how we treat one another. Below are a few simple People First policies and practices you can adopt to promote improved COVID-19 safety for the workplace:

Policy Flexibility

In the midst of these unprecedented times, employers are sifting through an abundance of information to determine how to operate in the workplace during a pandemic. With so much information out there, it is hard to know exactly what to do – what is true and what isn’t – especially for contractors operating in different states, each with different requirements. Because of this, safety managers are learning by taking cues from the CDC, state leaders, and other corporate entities to model new policies for workplace behavior and safety protocols.

One important step many corporations have taken is to consult with team members internally to determine where there may be existing or newly revealed gaps in safety. COVID-19 has unfortunately highlighted some flaws in labor and employment laws, proving that many companies are ill-equipped to handle potential health and safety crises. Consulting with your employees will help you to determine where you may be lacking in offering them protection and can help to mend those gaps before a problem occurs.

Use this moment as an opportunity to find out what your employees need from you, then use that information to inform your steps moving forward. Employers will, of course, still need to focus on ensuring their work gets done, but in unique circumstances, you must be willing to make accommodations for the sake of your employees.

Remember: without your employees, you would have no company or clients, so make accommodations for them to ensure they remain safe, healthy, and happy. Many of your employees will be working to make accommodations for their own families, especially as parents experience new challenges during school closures and online learning.

Personal Protective Equipment

Construction is an essential industry, which means your employees are essential workers. As essential workers that help to keep the economy and world running even during the pandemic, they should always have access to fresh, clean PPE where social distancing guidelines cannot be followed. Masks, in particular, are a key element of workplace safety at this moment and should be worn whenever possible by all site personnel.

Increase Sanitation Guidelines

The job site can get dirty, so for some, increasing sanitation guidelines may sound like a silly idea. In truth, it is entirely possible to improve how we protect one another and to reduce the spread of germs between personnel. A few easy ways to improve sanitation on-site include:

  • Hand washing stations at entrances of job sites
  • Hand sanitizer stations throughout sites
  • Strict equipment/tool sharing guidelines
  • Cleaning/sanitizing tools and equipment before and after use
  • Restricting food on site
Health Assessments

Before entering the job site, some employers have begun administering basic health assessments to determine whether or not the employee is showing any signs of, or could possibly be at risk of, spreading COVID-19. Temperature checkpoints and basic self-reported symptom surveys can make a world of difference in preventing your workplace from experiencing an exposure.

Because of the highly infectious nature of COVID-19, safety procedures surrounding the prevention of the spread of the virus should also include plans for what to do in the event that one of your employees contracts COVID-19. Knowing who has been on the job site, and when, can help you to isolate potentially contagious individuals before they spread it to others.

Limited Site Access

Construction teams come in all shapes and sizes, which means for some, keeping track of who is entering and exiting the site is no small task. In preventing the spread of COVID-19, one of the most important factors is to limit the number of people an individual comes into contact with on a daily basis. Because of this, it is up to site managers to find ways to limit or prevent non-staff from entering the site.

This may mean needing to arrange contactless delivery of supplies or equipment, having food or lunches dropped off in sealed containers where it can be accessed by people individually, limiting vendors and hired contractors, and keeping consistent schedules to limit the number of people each member of staff encounters.

Safety Program Development

We offer many safety services at Trinity, but one of the services we specialize in is helping our clients develop safety programs that are custom made for their workplace. No two teams are quite the same, which means all companies have their own unique approach to the job and their own unique needs. With plenty of uncertainty going around in the world, the Trinity team is more committed than ever to helping our customers create stable, safe work environments that their employees can feel confident clocking into every day.

We help our clients to assess their workplace challenges and make comprehensive plans to address each need directly. With many employees concerned for their safety regarding COVID-19, we are working with employers to find ways to improve communication with their teams and the support they provide to promote worker safety.

Trinity can provide training, staffing, and long-term safety leadership to help you foster a permanent safe workplace culture, and to give you the skills necessary to continue those practices into the future.

Ready to tackle the challenge of workplace safety during a global pandemic? Visit Trinity Safety Group online to find out how.