Consider this: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation reported in 2015 the average cost of influenza for businesses averaged $87 billion annually. Add what is potentially an annual seasonal outbreak of coronavirus to that number, and you are looking at a very real, very large problem organizations must solve.
Organizations best position themselves if they focus less on ‘beating’ a particular virus, and instead create a unified strategy that addresses the inevitability of health crises. This is accomplished by seizing the opportunity for a cross-organizational strategy that utilizes leaders from various departments and implements a comprehensive wellness solution that proactively stems any future pandemics. The challenge is that many companies struggle with building a customized health and safety solution that provides substantial immediate coverage and future-proofs their organization from future crises.
For organizations looking to drive workforce safety measures, here is a blueprint to help you evaluate your current needs and implement solutions to satisfy your long-term goals.
Many well-intentioned businesses have created temporary policies and procedures that fend off immediate health concerns but do nothing to extend risk mitigation beyond this pandemic. Early in the pandemic, EBI recognized the need for comprehensive health and safety solutions that didn’t just put a band-aid on businesses’ COVID-19 related concerns, but provided a platform for businesses to battle any illness that comes your way. The result of countless hours of research, development, and consultations with our panel of medical experts, is EBI Workplace Health & Safety.
This end-to-end solution is a secure U.S. cloud-based, customizable platform providing modular options for retailers and all organizations to protect their people and their livelihoods. The platform serves as a central data repository and analytics engine for data collected through employee mobile health apps, thermal scanners, and contact tracing systems. These analytics give employers the insights they need to make critical business decisions to keep workplaces open and operational.
As part of our blueprint, we are offering companies a complimentary 30-minute COVID-19 Response Review. This exploratory discussion reviews any existing protocols you have in place with the goal of protecting your staff and visitors while maximizing your budget. Once this review is complete, you’ll receive relevant benchmarks, tailored guidance, and actionable recommendations on how your organization can level up with workforce health and safety measures.
Our intention is to provide an objective blueprint for any size company in any industry that wishes to increase its long-term health and safety risk mitigation. Here is a list of solutions we’ll examine and guidance for how they can be implemented.
Physical Barriers: This is a catch-all category for any forms of Personal Protective Equipment you’ve implemented or required of your individual employees, and any temporary or permanent workplace safety modifications you’ve put in place such as counter shields, plexiglass dividers, touchless menus, contactless delivery, stickers, posters, and point-of-sale covers. In some cases, organizations may have even hired safety culture consultants and workplace reconfiguration and technical experts.
Mobile App: Which is more cost-effective: responding to a viral outbreak or preventing a potentially contagious person from entering the workplace until they have a clean bill of health? The advantages of prevention are clear, which is why most employers urge workers to stay home when they feel unwell. A policy of turning away asymptomatic persons at the door fails to address some person-to-person transmission risks. Mass transit commuters may expose other riders, for example, or a sick person waiting to be screened for entry may infect employees, vendors, or visitors in the same line. A more effective approach is to use a mobile app that links employee wellness to facility wellness. Employees get the guidance they need, management gets the alerts they need, HR gets the data it needs to support overall employee health – all before an infected individual may risk reporting to work.
Health Screening: Screening your employees for common symptoms and potential exposure before they enter the workplace is key. The CDC recommends all companies do this at a minimum. By combining a basic health questionnaire, potential exposure questions, and a contactless thermal temperature scan, companies can nearly eliminate the risk of symptomatic employees entering the workplace. The data collected can be used to trend illness at all facilities, and possibly prevent a complete shutdown.
Distance Monitoring: Although health screening can prevent symptomatic employees from entering the workplace, asymptomatic employees will inevitably be present. Ensuring physical distancing compliance and other best practices will further reduce the risk of an outbreak in the workplace. The pandemic has brought many technology-driven devices to the market that help track distancing and maintain compliance. These same devices can be used to help identify problem areas with the physical design of workspaces allowing them to be reconfigured for additional safety of your employees. Data collected from these systems allow you to measure staff compliance with distancing and provide coaching opportunities for those individuals who may present an increased risk to others.
Contact Tracing: Despite all best efforts to prevent illness from entering the workplace and spreading within, the fact of the matter is that it’s impossible to completely prevent. Contact tracing has proven an extremely reliable method of stopping the spread when used effectively. Performing contract tracing manually often falls on HR. As effective as this can be, it is extremely time-consuming as it involves tens if not hundreds of phone interviews each time someone is diagnosed positive. Technology-driven tools and software are available that can more reliably track both distance monitoring and provide the data necessary to accurately contact trace when necessary. These tools not only provide more accurate tracing, but they notify all those potentially exposed instantly, allowing you to act faster to stop the spread.
Analytics Dashboard: Fluctuations in capacity, foot traffic, physical distancing, and outbreak origins can be difficult to track, view and monitor without a centralized command center. A dashboard that integrates with thermal scanning and contact-tracing wearables and can communicate results to leadership in real-time can help leadership track wellness‐related activity. The dashboard can analyze real‐time location data and issue quick notifications, medical guidance, and instructions. Additionally, a centralized command center helps management adhere to regulatory health and safety compliance and ensure state and local traffic density guidance is being followed.
As you consider which of these workplace safety measures you already have in place, and which ones may be critical to your long-term risk mitigation plans, there are four key standards to evaluate:
It’s a considerable challenge for organizations that are still taking stock of the financial impacts of 2020 to enact workplace safety measures you’re not sure you’re going to need in the future.
But here is the thing – you are going to need these solutions.
While the distribution of vaccines will surely impact infection rates, employees, customers, and visitors now expect companies to do something else to ensure their health and safety are being put first. Just as influenza did, COVID-19 has now done. Businesses will need a comprehensive, scalable solution that can evolve as fast as necessary to meet any health and safety need, while providing critical data insights to help make business decisions as rapidly and confidently as possible.
Our team is standing by to help you assess your organization’s health and safety risk mitigation plan with our FREE 30-minute COVID-19 Response Review. This is the first step toward truly understanding if your blueprint detailing workplace safety measures is built to last.
Writer. Digital marketer. Storyteller. An award-winning writer and editor, Tricia O'Connor is the Marketing Content Manager at EBI. Tricia worked as a broadcast and print journalist for nearly two decades writing and producing programming for high-profile networks like ESPN Radio, History Channel, and Hallmark Channel, as well as contributing editorial work to publications nationwide. Tricia joined the EBI marketing team in 2019 and is responsible for content strategy, development, and engagement. Tricia earned a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and is a proud undergraduate alumna of Wheaton College in Massachusetts.