As we step into National Safety Month, it’s an excellent opportunity for companies to leverage COVID-19 best practices and prepare to return to the workplace, even if it’s at a reduced capacity level or in stages. Companies need to implement workplace controls to ensure the safety and well-being of their returning workforce. Many companies have been dramatically affected by the current COVID-19 pandemic. They were forced to shut down and are now looking to reopen, many adopting a staged approach.
How do companies provide a safe environment for their workers’ return and effectively communicate the new COVID-19 procedures?
OSHA suggests that companies utilize the “hierarchy of controls” as a framework to select ways of controlling workplace hazard communications. (1) This guidance would include COVID-19 related communications and protocols. To learn more about the hierarchy of controls, click here.
“Although safety signs and warnings are low on the hierarchy of controls, they are an important part of communicating with employees about the hazards in the workplace,” says Diana Stegall, executive vice president of Rivendell Safety Consulting. “Signs that are well-positioned and take into consideration the hazard ‘audience’ can be very effective in communicating a hazard and serving as a reminder when no one else is around.” (2)
Proper safety signage educates people urgently and clearly, making it a crucial part of your workplace safety plan. According to the CDC, “employers should communicate workplace policies clearly, frequently, and via multiple methods. And may need to communicate with non-English speakers in their preferred languages.” (3)
The CDC has provided guidance for businesses and employers seeking to resume normal or phased business operations, during COVID-19:
- Conducting daily hazard checks
- Conducting a hazard assessment of the workplace
- Encouraging employees to wear cloth face coverings in the workplace, if appropriate
- Implementing policies and practice for social distancing in the workplace – Use signs, tape marks, or other visual cues such as decals or colored tape on the floor to indicate where to stand when physical barriers are not possible
- Improving the building ventilation system
Where should safety signs be used?
Examples of situations where COVID-19 signage may be needed:
- Specialized negative pressure areas
- Handwashing reminders in washrooms
- Designated areas for 6 ft. social distancing
- Areas where masks are required
- COVID-19 quarantine areas
- Proper PPE usage reminders
- Temperature check stations
- Directional traffic (one-way, enter and exit only)
- Close or limited access to common areas
- Areas where visitors or contractors enter a building (direction on companies COVID-19 protocols)
- Hand sanitizer and disinfect stations
Panduit understands the necessity for a safe work environment; we have everything you need to create on-demand, custom signs and labels, among many other safety-related products. Click to learn more about our safety sign solutions.
DID YOU KNOW?
When unexpected plant shutdowns occur, safety and plant managers should capitalize on the opportunity to evaluate and improve their safety procedures. Often during plant shutdowns, floor employees may feel confused or be filled with uncertainty. Managers should seize this chance to increase communications and encourage employee engagement regarding company safety protocols.
Read our blog “Learn how to leverage an unexpected plant shutdown to improve your electrical safety procedures” for more information on how to capitalize on your plant shutdown.
(1) Occupational Health and Safety Administration. “Guidance for Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19”. Accessed May 29, 2020. https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf
(2) American Society of Safety Professionals. “Three Ways Signage Can Improve Workplace Safety”. Accessed May 29, 2020. https://www.assp.org/news-and-articles/2019/05/24/three-ways-signage-can-improve-workplace-safety
(3) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), May 2020”. Accessed May 29, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fspecific-groups%2Fguidance-business-response.html