With the spread of the coronavirus, the health and safety of our workers is back in the news. Indeed, frontline workers, especially healthcare professionals, have become the faces of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic – their heroism matched only by the level of safety risk they court to do their jobs, with data sources showing a disproportionate number of healthcare workers among those infected with the coronavirus.
Not just healthcare professionals, either. Frontline workers in supermarkets and groceries, manufacturing, emergency response have all admirably played their parts in supporting the public, whether it’s ensuring a stable food supply, maintaining critical supply chains, or transporting the sickest to hospitals. And they, too, have courted outsized safety risk doing their jobs.
That’s why of all days, today, the World Day for Safety and Health at Work and Workers' Memorial Day, it’s important to remember their sacrifices. But remembering the sacrifices of this at-risk population shouldn’t just mean reflection, it means taking stock of how PCBU’s “actions can prevent future work-related deaths, injuries and illnesses,” which starts with raising awareness of work health and safety as a practice and building proactive safety cultures to prevent future injuries and death. This is the time, especially as the theme of this year’s world safety day is “Stop the pandemic: Safety and health at work can save lives.”
We should heed this theme, even in non-healthcare and frontline industries, as COVID-19 has caused such rapid changes to the way we work. Meanwhile, the duty of care obligation employers maintain to employees still holds for protecting workers from the risk of COVID-19 infection. What are some simple steps PCBUs can take to keep their employees safe? Safe Work Australia offers a few simple suggestions:
- Ensuring good hygiene and cleanliness in the workplace
- Implementing physical distancing, and
- Using personal protective equipment as appropriate
Encouraging awareness about worker health and safety in this age of COVID-19 involves more than implementing a few measures, though. It entails cultivating an end-to-end safety culture throughout the organisation.
At the crux of that culture should be powerful, risk and workplace safety software – not manual processes and systems that leave most risks unidentified. And on that note, we here at Noggin have some ideas on what features and functionality will help keep your employees safe in the age of COVID-19:
- Controls and distributes up-to-date documents. The nuances of safety and risk management policy (both internal and external) generate tons of documentation. That documentation must be carefully tracked, so that new tasks, checklists, and corrective actions can be set against it. Providing the evidence of proactive health and safety management protocols requires safety management software that tracks and manages all safety information, including key documents, tasks, checklists, and corrective actions, in one single source of truth.
- Ensures compliance, manages breaches easily. Maintaining a compliance posture with all relevant health and safety regulations is a key objective for any Safety team – now more so than ever. Effective WHS management software can simplify those core compliance management duties, especially with functionality targeting compliance obligations, breaches, and plans – even employee health checks and drug/alcohol testing. Technology should furnish easy-to-access, best-practice, out-of-the-box compliance obligation and breach forms, as well as supplying risk compliance registers as a dashboard template.
- Identifies and controls hazards. Workplace safety risk management is all about identifying, evaluating, and determining the safety risk an organization is exposed to – as that risk changes –and coming up with appropriate policies, processes, and procedures to control those identified hazards. To make the process manageable, safety software must help, providing functionality to make risk assessment, treatment, and reporting easier. Standard hazard workflows are vital; so too is technology that includes thousands (yes, thousands) of standard risks and controls.
- Manage incidents, too. Risk management is important. But what happens when safety risks become full-blown safety incidents, like with COVID-19? In that eventuality, safety incident functionality (for the reporting and management of all environmental, health and safety events) has to be integrated into the same flexible solution. Cross-listing safety hazard information (whether it be people, assets, or risk data) with the resulting incident – in other words, relating incidents, risks, and hazards to your own organization structures, buildings, sites, equipment, materials, and other assets – gives teams the requisite history and intelligence they need to trigger necessary changes and more easily identify where risk controls failed to achieve desired outcomes. The result: an overall more efficient incident response.
Finally, let’s take this opportunity with health and safety back in the news to make an affirmative commitment to the safety of our employees.
Interested in learning more about Noggin's free COVID-19 Response Modules? Sign up for the free application: