NSC’s Nationwide Task Force – “SAFER” to Ensure Employee Safety through Pandemic
May 25, 2020
As the US prepares itself for the gradual and safe reopening of the business segments and traditional workplaces, the National Safety Council (NSC), has announced – SAFER (Safe Actions For Employee Returns), a nationwide task force aimed at providing best practices for employees’ safety as they resume work amidst the pandemic.
SAFER – For the Safest Transition to Work
SAFER comprises a team of over two dozen companies including FORTUNE 500 enterprises, trade associations, public health professionals, and experts, who have collaborated to share their expertise and release recommendations and guidance for employers on how they can ensure the safety of their employees. NASA, U.S steel, Uber, McDonald’s, Amazon, and the Chamber of Commerce are some names part of the task force.
The task force will identify and address the potential hazards that employees may have to face once they return to work in the post-COVID environment. It will issue general and industry-specific free playbooks for establishments to help them align the safety of employees with business objectives. It will also identify complexities with re-engaging the workforce, including contractors, by collaborating with human resources, legal, labor, health care and workers compensation providers (In the Newsroom, April 22, 2020).
Focussed On Workplace Safety Protocols and Procedures
Lorraine M. Martin, President, and CEO of NSC stated that NSC is looking to hire organizations, which have been through the arc of shutting down operation and reopening it. The task force will focus on the usage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect the employees from the infection, and prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Elaborating on the role of NSC, Martin says, “For more than a century, NSC has been helping employers put safety at the forefront of all their decisions, and we are once again taking action to continue serving this important role. With SAFER, we are confident we’re bringing the best minds together to ensure Americans have the safest transition back to work so we can truly flatten the curve and enable people to live their fullest lives.” (In the Newsroom, April 22, 2020)
Creating Confidence in Employees That They Will Be Safe At Work
The COVID-19 pandemic spread has changed everything around us so irrevocably. There’s no denying fact that employers will be hard-pressed to get their business back on track, the situation of the employees is no different as they will have to grapple with issues at every front, be it – the job security, business and career prospects, and life in general.
Moving forward, employers will have a larger role to play in making employees feel assured that their safety and health matters the most than anything else. Focussing on promoting a trustworthy and symbiotic relationship is the need of the hour.
Since most workplaces are not designed in a way where employees are required to work within a specific distance from each other, employers will now have to modify the workplaces to follow the social distancing norm. They will also have to implement proactive steps to ensure the health and safety of the workers while continuing with the daily operations.
Organizations dealing in hazardous waste need to ensure their work environment complies with OSHA requirements and should focus on arranging HAZWOPER refresher courses for employees. An 8-hour HAZWOPER course that meets the requirements outlined in OSHA 29 CFR 1910.120 (e) (8) regulations would be ideal for those who need to refresh their existing 24-hour or 40-hour HAZWOPER certification. HAZWOPER refresher training can also be bought online.
Getting Workforces Back On the Path to the New Normal
SAFER’s practices will serve as a guide for employers looking for the best standards for keeping workers safe and operations running during the pandemic. Businesses in some US states, which have already reopened are complying with the OSHA safety measures.
If organizations are recruiting new workers for cleaning up hazardous materials regularly, they should be provided with adequate safety equipment/kits and an initial HAZWOPER 40-hour training.
Organizations and retail spaces getting back to reopening will have to encourage personal hygiene to employees and customers while practicing social distancing to the core. Adhering to safety protocols like installing barriers between two workstations, restricting the number of customers inside the store, use of PPE, etc. should also be instigated. Stores may even temporarily bar customers’ entry and ask them to opt for pick-up and delivery. However, this move could invite litigation.
Since fatalities due to COVID-19 were already on the rise, many states and territories had to shut down non-essential businesses and prohibit or limit in-person workforces to safeguard public health. As organizations prepare to resume work, employers will have to focus on mitigating risk related to injuries and death at the workplace and prevent the spread of coronavirus infection. SAFER in this context will serve as a leading voice that will help employers prioritize employees’ safety in the present situation and the post-pandemic world.