Coronavirus & Worker Safety: How You Can Prepare Your Operations
Coronavirus & Worker Safety: How You Can Prepare Your Operations
Industry Insights
Coronavirus & Worker Safety: How You Can Prepare Your Operations
The COVID-19 coronavirus is now officially a pandemic, in this post we'll go over how it can affect your business and how you can prepare your employees and org to endure through the epidemic.
March 11, 2020

Yesterday, WHO (The World Health Organization) officially declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic. We are already seeing significant impacts on the economy, daily life, and changes in behavior.  However, the key is not to panic, but to prepare! 

As leaders in your operations, you must take the lead on pandemic response planning. In this breakdown, we'll go over action steps on what you can do to lead the cause for prevention. Unlike other industries, manufacturing and other industrial sectors can't work from home or bring their operations to a complete standstill without risking short term financial implications. So the best thing to do is prepare and mitigate the risk. We'll go over the current situation, the complications of misinformation, and take a look at ACTIONABLE solutions you can take today.

Also, we’ll be going over how:

WorkClout will be helping manufacturers and other industrial sectors with business continuity and overall preparedness for the coronavirus. WorkClout will provide this as a free service. We'll also be discounting WorkClout Performance Support Software to make it more accessible during this time and offering it at cost. Learn more here

I. The Current Situation:

At the time of this writing, there are currently 125,646 cases, 4,607 deaths, and 67,051 people that have recovered worldwide. 

Coronavirus has emerged as a significant risk to the personal wellbeing of employees and the operational success of organizations. The current risk level reported by the CDC is “Level 3 epidemic” (with the highest being 6) in the US. Still, there is enough concern about a future elevation of risk that organizations need to act now to ensure that they are prepared for wider outbreaks. 

With events like the NBA getting suspended, Tom Hanks contracting the virus, and Trump announcing travel bans from Europe, its easy to get overwhelmed, but fear not! If you plan and prepare, you’re derisking your operations.

To keep updated on the latest numbers, you can go here for live updates

Here is a full list of coronavirus resources from Andreessen Horowitz

Here is the rate of infection compared to other viruses from other disease outbreaks (data from Feb 8 from the World Economic Forum). 

II. Complication & Misinformation 

The coronavirus is similar to the flu, but unlike the flu, COVIND-19 still has many unknowns. International and regional health authorities have been challenged by misinformation and misinterpretation from the media and the public, which complicated the situation as organizations seek to and understand the risk posed for operations quickly. Seek the most accurate information from an authoritative health organization, like the CDC or WHO. 

III. How to Prepare

The most impacted industries will be Services and Manufacturing due to employee absenteeism, travel restrictions, and other downstream supply impacts. Preparing now will put your organization in a better situation if this pandemic starts exponentially growing in your region. There are three ways to prepare and prevent within your organization: Take immediate actions (more detail below), Monitor updates daily on the current situation, and begin crisis management and continuity planning. 

Taking Immediate Action:

A strong suggestion is to prepare for the coronavirus through excellent communication, coordination, hygiene, and isolation. 

1. Communication:

Employees will look to your organization for trusted information on the status of how coronavirus will impact their day-to-day and near future. 

  • One thing you want to prevent is panic and misinformation, so promoting a sense of calmness. 
  • A living digital forum that can be updated is a useful communication tool, as it serves as a single point of reference for every single employee while allowing the organization to add or remove information as the situation changes quickly.
  • Initial communication should also establish how the information is expected to be received or updated and where they should go for information or questions.

2. Coordination:

Creating a detailed procedure and policy of how to handle an outbreak within the org is especially necessary to make sure everyone is on the same page. 

  • By focusing on putting specified and visual procedures into place, it'll be a lot simpler to organize and give autonomy on decision making to each pod within your organization. The key here is to make it easy for things to happen as the situation changes rapidly while giving the ability to make decisions with minimal oversight.
  • Quickly assign safety and prevention tasks to individuals and provide leaders within your org from Operations, HR, Legal, IT, etc. the ability to move and react quickly.
  • If anyone in your org needs to travel, it's better to invest in video conferencing tools like Zoom, Google Hangouts, Webex to minimize the risk of exposure. 

3. Hygiene:

Often overlooked, but probably the most effective in making sure an outbreak doesn't occur in your operations. 

  • Instill and encourage a basic hygiene protocol that includes:
  • Washing hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. 
  • Avoid touching face, eyes, mouth, or nose. 
  • Covering coughs and sneezes with tissue or elbow. 
  • Do not come into work if showing flu-like symptoms.
  • Avoid close contact whenever possible, especially with anyone displaying symptoms. 
  • Ensure soap and sanitizer are at each work center. 
  • Use promotional materials to highlight protocol.
  • Create safety checklists for work areas to disinfect and sanitize work areas. 

We have free promotional material you can print out and distribute, email to get access. 

4. Isolation:

Create or emphasize your policy for health & sickness.

  • Remind employees of policies of sickness. 
  • If someone is sick, make sure they don't come into the building and have them self-isolate at home or call a doctor if their symptoms are severe.

The key here is to prevent an outbreak within your facility because if it does, then it can cause significant disruptions to your operations.  

IV. Crisis Management & Continuity:

Ensuring a business continuity plan is in place is crucial for your organization. The goal is to keep essential functions running, CNN reports that organizations should be prepared for up to 40% of their workforce to be absent. 

1. Identify essential functions that need to be running.

  • What are the critical products or services that must be maintained?
  • What are your top 2 initiatives that are financially crucial to the business?
  • What suppliers do you rely on? 

 Focus on a minimum viable way to keep your company above the red line and focus on products or services that are the most lucrative to your business, even if it means taking a loss on other smaller products or service lines. 

2. Establish a plan to mediate absent employees.

  • How are employee skills obtained?
  • How can you transfer knowledge & cross-train other employees in a short time?
  • Do you have every employee's contact information?

You need a tool to help cross-train employees and transfer knowledge of your best operators to mitigate the risk of a more absent workforce. The tribal knowledge needs to be transported in an accessible format. 

3. Communicate with your suppliers. 

  • Ensure that your suppliers or contractors are informed of your continuity plans. 

We hosted a webinar with CI Leaders that covered this content as well, check it out in the video below:

V. How WorkClout is Helping You

To make sure every organization is prepared, WorkClout will be helping manufacturers and other industrial sectors with business continuity and overall preparedness for the coronavirus. WorkClout will provide this as a free service. We'll also be discounting WorkClout Performance Support Software to make it more accessible during this time and offering it at cost. 

We’ve already helped several organizations prepare and we want to help more!

If you’re unfamiliar with WorkClout Performance Support, this is how it can be helpful: 

WorkClout is a mobile & web application that helps industrial, blue-collar workers perform better by centralizing performance tracking, tasks, on-the-job work instructions, skills training, & communication.

We'll also be extending this benefit further by offering free licenses to qualifying non-profit organizations as well.

If you're interested in this service, feel free to reach out directly by replying to this email or filling out this onboarding form here.

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