Incorporating COVID-19 Protections into Ongoing Workplace Safety Programs -- Occupational Health & Safety  12/01/2020 08:04:45 
Incorporating COVID-19 Protections into Ongoing Workplace Safety Programs

In a post-COVID world, organizations must develop policies rooted in evidenced-based solutions that foster a safer workplace and drive cost savings.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for countless aspects of society. Many corners of our world and our economy were unprepared and left scrambling to respond. As our collective response to the pandemic has evolved, the workplace has become a key testing ground for creating safe and effective protocols to protect workers on the job and society at large.

Employers have stepped up in a big way, committing to learning and dedicating significant resources to protecting efforts in the wake of COVID-19. Almost overnight, HR professionals, facility managers, C-suite executives and other company leaders found themselves working to become experts in infectious disease control management. It was not a fair or ideal situation, but for many companies—in particular companies deemed essential—it was a necessary first step toward building a robust and effective COVID-19 response.

Organizations with stronger foundations in workplace health and safety were better prepared in some respects. That groundwork in keeping workers safe on the job has been invaluable as companies have worked to build a new normal that incorporates COVID-19 precautions into a sustained workplace health and safety program, and the stakes remain tremendously high. As companies scale up operations, COVID-19 still poses a significant threat to employee health and employer bottom lines. COVID-19 is poised to drive $81 billion in increased workers’ compensation claims for U.S. employers.

A New Hazard with Familiar Safety Protocols

The reality is, much of society’s collective COVID-19 response—on the job and off—is built on fundamental principles that will be immediately familiar to safety professionals. They will recognize the significant impact these controls can have, as well as many of the challenges that come with promoting and enforcing them. Essentially, COVID-19 precautions come down to four common health and safety protocols workplaces have been emphasizing for years:

This article originally appeared in the December 1, 2020 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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