The COVID-19 pandemic has affected virtually every workplace in the United States over the past 3 years. Some workplaces fared better than others when it came to protecting the health and safety of their workers. The most successful companies endured the challenges of COVID-19 by utilizing EH&S software. EH&S software helped employers navigate the unprecedented organizational trials and shifting regulations by minimizing operational disruption, enabling methodologies designed to prevent the spread of the virus, and strengthening the overall programs that keep workers healthy and safe. In this article, we will cover some of the ways that EH&S software solutions accomplished all this.
Physical objects (e.g., pens, pencils, paperwork) were and still are paths for spreading bacteria. The simplest way to counteract this spread is by going paperless. By using EH&S software, companies were still able to perform important safety tasks while reducing risk. Companies could receive filled-out forms (such as health and temperature checks), conduct inspections, and complete other safety protocols while minimizing contact with employees. Employees could also gain access to important safety information including company policies, business continuity plans, and prevention procedures through their computers, laptops, or phones.
2. Social Distancing Maintenance
It will be some time before anyone forgets the rule of maintaining a minimum of 6 feet of distance from each other. Companies found this to be an enormous challenge. This meant no more group meetings, group inspections, training, or company gatherings. EH&S software aided companies with communicating important safety information to employees without having to meet in person. EH&S software also assisted companies by documenting training and meetings and tracking attendance through e-signatures. The software could also be used for employees who were working remotely from the safety of their homes.
Important safety inspections and audits could be more easily conducted and tracked using EH&S software, which also maintained social distance protocols by allowing workers to collaborate and input data from separate locations or at different times. Companies could also ensure compliance and follow-through while minimizing worker contact by assigning tasks and corrective actions to workers through emails or texts that linked back to the digitally recorded inspections. The software-enabled level of flexibility was certainly not something that could have been achieved with a spreadsheet or other paper-based systems.
3. Contractor Management
During the pandemic, companies also had to consider the role and safety of contractors. Some companies rely heavily on contractors and their specialized skills to keep their businesses running smoothly, but anyone, including contractors, entering a workplace could pose the same risk of spreading COVID-19 that general employees presented. The software was used to conduct important pre-qualification and health screenings for all contractors before they could enter the workplace. This helped to ensure that contractors who were showing symptoms of COVID-19 or who might have been exposed to the virus were identified and denied entry before they arrived onsite. Assigning questionnaires to contractors, to be completed using their computers or mobile devices, allowed companies to effectively and safely conduct these essential risk mitigation practices.
4. Enforcement of Sanitation and Spread Prevention Protocols
It was thought that the COVID-19 virus could survive on some surfaces for days, so organizations needed to be able to schedule, implement, and track new cleaning processes. EH&S software helped to systematize the tracking of cleaning tasks, allowing companies to thoroughly maintain essential cleaning schedules and monitor these processes. Monitoring these cleaning and disinfection processes could also ensure that they were helping to reduce the rates of infection.
As companies started to reopen and people returned to work, the same helpful technology continued to advance business, save lives, and reduce risk. Using EH&S software to track, train, inspect, and monitor essential safety activities (all while keeping workers safe and minimizing business impact) was invaluable to employers during the pandemic. It will continue to help reduce future workplace risk and protect the health and safety of workers with their long-term needs (including future outbreaks). While we may finally be seeing the finish line with COVID-19, the best practices and industrial advancements that the pandemic seemingly spurred on will continue to allow companies to adapt and thrive.
The SafetyStratus Research Advisory Group (RAG) brings together thought leaders from the global environmental, health, and safety community to promote best practices and provide key insights in the profession and the industries they serve. The Research Advisory Group also advocates, where practical, the intersection of and advances with the use of technology, such as the SafetyStratus enterprise EHS software platform. Group membership consists of representatives from across varied disciplines and market sectors as well as select members of the SafetyStratus team.
The primary objectives of the SafetyStratus RAG partnership are to:
- Build a strategic partnership between EHS practitioners and the SafetyStratus team.
- Provide engaging and practical content to the global EHS community.
- Provide discipline and market feedback specific to SafetyStratus products and services.
While the objectives of the RAG are varied, the primary public-facing outcome will be available through engaging and practical content found on the SafetyStratus resource pages. Various articles, papers, and other valuable resources will be produced and shared as part of an ongoing effort to cultivate a robust community. Ultimately, the SafetyStratus RAG will expand to have a broader reach and provide opportunities for more inclusion by all interested EHS professionals a collaborative community environment.