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By Ria Chan   |  
July 20th, 2020

How to respond to COVID-19 risk with an early warning system

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Everywhere is high risk

Safety is now a permanent agenda item for every board meeting and the #1 priority for every business in the world.

When we think of high-risk working environments our minds automatically go to building sites, mines, and production lines. But everywhere is high risk in a pandemic — catching public transit, getting into an elevator, going into the office, or serving a customer. The rigorous safety practices traditionally employed by high-risk industries like construction and mining are now relevant to all of us. 

Respond to risk with an early warning system

The best way to manage risk among your people, customers, and the environment is by developing an early warning system. This system is what keeps your business prepared for all the current and emergent risks. For businesses that are already in the midst of reopening, this system is intended to keep you prepared for quick pivots as the world continues to shift and change. And, for businesses who are yet to return to work, use your early warning system as reopening preparation. Build your early warning system in four steps:

  1. Digitize industry guidelines
  2. Distribute checklists to employees
  3. Create a real-time monitoring system and safety culture
  4. Complete visibility and audit trail

Digitize industry guidelines 

Official health and safety guidelines are being made available across a range of categories. Some guidelines are mandated by country or local jurisdictions, while others are driven by industry bodies or health associations such as CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). These guidelines are designed to keep your business compliant to the current health and safety standards. Business leaders should be adopting these guidelines into their business operations at a bare minimum. 

Top country guidelines:

Top industry standards:

To truly make safety your edge, the winners during the reopening phase are the businesses that are proactive about safety. These are the businesses that install partition screens at registrars or conduct daily temperature checks on their workforce to make sure their customers and employees are protected. Beyond official safety guidelines, keep abreast of changes within your industry vertical and adopt the best practices that work for your business. Here are some of the common trends from SafetyCulture customers we’ve seen emerging as businesses reopen: 

  • Facilities increasing regular cleaning and sanitization in high traffic areas 
  • Businesses protecting their staff and customers by providing PPE for staff, dividers, and flexible working arrangements
  • Physical businesses enforcing social distancing requirements with floor markers and implementing queuing systems to reduce physical crowding
  • The rise of contactless payments and deliveries

When shopping is a hazard: how small and large retailers are returning to work with risk management at the forefront of their reopening strategy

Retail companies have to be incredibly flexible right now; making the shift away from traditional retail methods and transitioning into a new world of ecommerce, social distancing, and stringent hygiene measures. Today, retailers have to be extra vigilant and follow guidelines pertaining to hygiene practices. The hand sanitizer is a staple in front of every single apparel store, supermarket workers have been assigned new rotations in their shift to wipe down shopping carts and baskets, and people are choosing to shop from their armchairs instead of going to the local mall. Social distancing is the new norm, with retailers piling up on duct tape to mark distances on the floor, and investing in people counters to enforce store limits. Finally, retailers realize the biggest risk to manage is their people; employers are encouraging sick employees to stay home, mandating temperature checks, and providing PPE for staff and customers. 

The next steps in your early warning system

At SafetyCulture, we’re here to be your early warning system and help you craft your reopening approach. We’re here to help you build a thriving culture of safety by increasing the frequency of COVID-19 checks, identifying risks in real-time, and flagging when things go wrong. Continue reading and applying techniques to the 4-step early warning system:

Step 1: Digitize industry guidelines
Step 2: Distribute checklists to employees
Step 3: Create a real-time monitoring system and safety culture
Step 4: Complete visibility and audit trail

Important Notice
The information contained in this article is general in nature and you should consider whether the information is appropriate to your specific needs. Legal and other matters referred to in this article are based on our interpretation of laws existing at the time and should not be relied on in place of professional advice. We are not responsible for the content of any site owned by a third party that may be linked to this article. SafetyCulture disclaims all liability (except for any liability which by law cannot be excluded) for any error, inaccuracy, or omission from the information contained in this article, any site linked to this article, and any loss or damage suffered by any person directly or indirectly through relying on this information.

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