By breaking up your company’s response efforts, it will be easier for your organization to be thorough and ensure that no step is missed. After all, just one misstep can lead to the quick spread of COVID-19, jeopardizing the well-being of workers.
*Note: This guide does not take into account state and local guidance related to COVID-19, but follows the guidance laid out by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and OSHA that is designed to keep employers, employees and customers safe. In addition, this guide does not include industry-specific guidance.
Creating a Pandemic Response Team
To ensure that employees receive clear communications and that your company is on the same page when it comes to your return to work action plan, it’s essential that you create a pandemic response team. A pandemic response team is a cross-functional team that recommends and oversees workplace protocols to control the spread of COVID-19.
The scope and design of your team will vary depending on your specific business, but it should at least include the following roles:
- Team lead(s)— The team lead is responsible for the overall action plan, working with company stakeholders and relevant health and safety bodies to manage this action plan.
- COVID-19 prevention and protocols lead—This individual is responsible for recommending and developing protocols to ensure the wellness of all employees. They are also tasked with overseeing procedures for isolating employees should they become sick at work.
- Sanitization and disinfection lead—This individual manages logistics related to daily and periodic sanitation and disinfection efforts. Their responsibilities include ensuring that routine cleanings are completed and that the necessary cleaning supplies are readily available.
- Communication lead—The communication lead is tasked with managing any and all pandemic-related communications. They will work with HR and internal communication stakeholders to ensure COVID-19 training is completed and that employees and their managers understand their role in preventing the spread of the disease. They will provide COVID-19 related updates on a frequent basis and as needed.
One of the first tasks your pandemic response team should address is outlining responsibilities for managers and supervisors, as well as employees. When it comes to ensuring a safe workplace during the COVID-19 outbreak, both managers and employees have their role to play.
- Managers and supervisors—Leadership, including managers and supervisors, should familiarize themselves with the details of the action plan. Above all, leadership must be prepared to answer questions from employees and set a good example by adhering to the guidance prescribed in the plan. This involves practicing social distancing and good personal hygiene.
- Employees—Employees play a critical role in an organization's COVID-19 prevention efforts. To protect everyone in the plant, outline a number of best practices that employees should follow:
- Understand the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, and stay home if you are feeling sick—Any employee who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, chills or fatigue) should stay home. Individuals experiencing such symptoms should also be instructed to consult guidance from the CDC on seeking medical care.
- Practice good hygiene—Employees should clean their hands often, either with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water. Hand sanitizers should contain at least 60%-95% alcohol, and employees should wash their hands with soap for at least 20 seconds. In addition, employees should avoid touching their face and cough into their arm.
- Practice social distancing—Social distancing is the practice of deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness.
In addition to ensuring that your company’s approach to reopening following the COVID-19 pandemic is a joint effort, establishing a pandemic response team will demonstrate to your employees that you’re committed to their safety and well-being. Contact us to learn more.