The COVID-19 pandemic has likely altered how you conduct business, with many moving business practices to remote work or more outdoors. What’s your “new normal” business and safety plan? As you are developing overall COVID-19 response efforts, work to help reduce risk through the “PATH” – to Plan, Act, Train, and consider Health.
These core principles can help you to ensure your business is operating safely in today’s changing environment.
Employee & Customer Safety
What’s the Law Now?
Make sure you review and understand any local or state requirements related to reopening your business, including occupancy restrictions or other social distancing requirements. This, above all else, will keep you feeling confident and always “in the know.”
Something new we’ve all gotten used to is the term PPE, personal protective equipment. Ensure any additional health and safety measures such as gloves and face coverings, and adhering to social distancing requirements, are provided and easily accessible for employees.
Wash Your Hands
Of course, hand hygiene should be encouraged through frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
What’s Your Temperature?
Another new “norm” many businesses have adopted is health checks for employees upon coming in, versus waiting a few days until everyone in the warehouse has caught the bug. Consider a process for wellness checks as employees return to work, which may include temperature checks before entering the workplace. You may also need to develop or update your employee handbook to include sick employee protocols.
At-Home Test Kits
At-home COVID-19 test kits can also prove a huge time-saver for false-alarm scares when a cold or flu comes through your community. It gives a little comfort knowing what it is (or isn’t). Consider stocking up and providing them for your employees.
Reopening might include hiring new employees, some of whom may require training to avoid on-the-job injury. Similarly, consider retraining existing employees to help them reacclimate to safe working practices.
On-site Vendor Safety
Vendors play a critical role in supporting your business, but they can also be a potential source of exposure to SARs-CoV-2, commonly known as coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19. Keep them informed as to how your practices are being run going forward. Include details like package deliveries, PPE usage, and time spent on-site.
Set up disinfection procedures for the vehicles. Disinfect after each shift or when switching drivers. Equip each vehicle with a supply of disinfecting solutions for cleaning high-touch areas, as well as hand sanitizer, face coverings and gloves for drivers. Make sure cleaning and disinfection materials are compatible with the surfaces being treated.
For business deliveries, communicate with your customers early, before the actual delivery. Ask about changes to physical controls at locations where you make deliveries or if there have been changes to unloading and delivery procedures. When making home or business deliveries, limit in-person contact. Arrange for a drop-off location to minimize exposure to others.
Supply Chain Considerations
It is quite possible that some of your vendors will be running at limited capacity or unavailable. Consider the following to help ensure you have the products needed to run your business:
- Reconnect with your vendors to confirm that they are back up and running. Also confirm that they can supply adequate products in a timely fashion to meet customer demands.
- Consider sourcing new vendors, if necessary. Be sure any new vendors meet your vendor supply criteria (e.g., quality standards).
- Engage your legal counsel to review contracts established with new vendors to ensure that you are effectively leveraging risk transfer strategies.
Prepare Your Facility for Reopening
As you prepare to reopen your business, it’s important to prepare your facility as you ramp back up.
- If your store or restaurant was closed and unoccupied for seven-days or more due to COVID-19, it is recommended to complete normal routine cleaning and disinfecting procedures. If operations have continued under a limited basis, it is recommended to complete additional cleaning and disinfecting procedures.
Fleet and Driver Safety
With a possible increase in delivery demand, additional drivers may be needed. Make sure all your drivers are qualified by conducting motor vehicle record checks with evidence of an acceptable record, and a minimum of five years’ driving experience. Reinforce the importance of safe driving guidelines and avoid making delivery promises to your customers that encourage employees to speed. Prohibit mobile device use and other distractions while driving and require drivers to use only hands-free navigation to keep distractions to a minimum. You should also prohibit or restrict passengers.
For commercial drivers who were furloughed or laid off, review the hiring requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to determine if new applications or drug and alcohol testing are required.
Carefully review your staffing levels as your operational pace increases. While it may be tempting to try to do more with fewer drivers, over time, fatigued drivers can lead to an increase in motor vehicle crashes and workplace injuries.
Please let us know how we can best serve you in your personal or business insurance needs or have any questions related to your business’ activity.
J. M. Whitney Insurance is an independent insurance agency located in Watertown, Massachusetts. Give us a call, stop by, or request a quote online to find out how much we can save you on your insurance.
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