#1. How can I reassure my workers that we are following appropriate safety guidelines?
This question is an excerpt from our downloadable brief, “Seven Workforce Questions that Are Top of Mind During COVID-19: A Resource for Small Businesses.”
As scientists learn more about COVID-19, federal, state, and local guidance for safety and protection continues to evolve. Small business owners are now tasked with keeping up to date on safety measures and are responsible for educating their employees and customers about efforts to keep them safe. The information and tools below can help small businesses establish systems to bolster workplace safety and engage their employees as part of this process. As always, though, consult with applicable federal, state, and local public health and workplace safety authorities for their latest requirements and guidance.
Communicate about what you’re doing in a variety of ways
Business advisors and owners described using a range of communication tactics to make workers aware of new safety measures related to physical distancing, PPE provision, and workplace cleaning. Some businesses are using signs, manuals, and videos, regular staff emails, social media channels, and team meetings if they can be held safely. Communicating in a variety of ways helps to ensure that information is visible and accessible to all employees. It also helps to ensure that every member of the team (whether furloughed or employed) receives up to date information on rapidly changing policies, and that frontline managers are providing the same consistent message. It is also helpful to account for differing literacy and language comprehension levels. Bilingual workers may be able to assist in translating safety and training documents during compensated work time. A helpful example of a safety poster from the restaurant industry can be found on the last two pages of Safety First: Serving Food and Protecting People During COVID-19.
Provide health and safety training as a routine business practice
Given evolving guidance and regulations, small business owners noted that they need to stay updated on the latest safety guidance and establish routine practices for onboarding and training workers. The National Safety Council has compiled resources, including federal guidelines, industry guidance, and state-specific resources for employers. You may also be able to draw on free resources like the mobile phone-based training Stop COVID-19, which uses lessons delivered by text and WhatsApp to train workers on workplace safety.
Develop a system of continuous safety improvement
It can be helpful to establish ongoing procedures for communication, training, and monitoring related to safety. Processes could include establishing a safety committee, tracking and monitoring safety indicators, and holding regular safety meetings where employees are asked for feedback and ideas. While setting up these systems requires up-front investment of time and resources, they can help reduce the burden on small business owners over time as employees begin to play a more active role in communicating and operationalizing safety protocols. Giving workers opportunity to participate in decision-making about health and safety measures can strengthen buy-in, awareness, and execution. Small business owners also noted that it is important to make yourself available to respond to employees’ safety questions and concerns as they arise.
Small Business Perspectives
“We use face masks at the front counter. We explain the importance of PPE. I used to be on the subcommittee for restaurants for Baltimore City so I can explain to [my employees] what’s going on.” –Naijha Wright, co-owner of Baltimore-based vegan soul food restaurant Land of Kush
|IMPORTANT: Please note that this resource is not legal guidance about workplace safety. This guide does not provide technical information about regulations that businesses must comply with for reopening. Individual business owners are responsible for complying with their local jurisdiction’s evolving guidance related to COVID-19. The National Safety Council provides a range of resources that you may find helpful, including federal guidelines and state-specific resources regarding COVID-19 and the workplace.|
Seven Workforce Questions that Are Top of Mind During COVID-19
- How can I reassure my workers that we are following appropriate safety guidelines? (you are here)
- How can I create an equitable and inclusive environment for my employees and customers?
- How can I help my employees communicate and implement safety measures with customers?
- How can I help my employees manage increased stress?
- How can I help my employees get to work safely?
- How can I recognize and respond to my employees’ caregiving responsibilities?
- How can I support my employees’ financial stability?
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