Last week, we attended the Build. Grow. Thrive. Virtual Event put on by Small Business BC. Of special note, was the session “COVID-19 Workplace Health and Safety,” hosted by Chris Back, Director of WorkSafeBC. (Video of presentation at bottom of this article).
While we have covered in-depth the importance of having a COVID-19 Safety Plan, there were a few points that Chris brought up that felt worthy of repeating. While these may not be new, they have been covered a little less extensively here at BeautyCouncil.
Administrative controls (such as floor markings to direct traffic, cleaning protocols, etc.) will always be less effective than physical distancing or barriers because they require controlling the behaviour of others. And this is no easy task — especially consistently. Chris says, “as we all know, we can’t control anyone but ourselves. So again, making sure that you’re doing what you can in the other areas first is essential.” Refer to the pyramid or “hierarchy of controls” here.
To help clarify any remaining confusion, gloves are not considered a control measure for COVID. You can continue to wear gloves if you used them in your work prior to the pandemic, but it is not a protection measure against COVID transmission as it does not transfer through skin.
A reminder that it isn’t enough to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan. Business owners are responsible for training all staff specifically on the safety plan and any new protocols — and then monitoring for compliance and effectiveness. For example, if you’ve introduced enhanced handwashing protocols, it’s not enough to simply post it in the break room. Your staff need to be trained on when and how often they wash their hands, where they do it, and how they do it. You will then continually monitor that this protocol is being adhered to and if you need to make adjustments.
Business owners are also responsible for training supervisors on how to monitor workers to ensure policies and procedures are being followed. This is new territory for all of us. If you aren’t laying out specific responsibilities and expectations for your employees, and then training them on them, you aren’t setting them (or your safety plan) up for success.
We need to continuously assess and address the risk — and then adapt our plans. If something isn’t working within your business model, change the plan and retrain your staff. This will be particularly important if something has changed: for example, a new health order is issued, you’ve made a change to your operations or staff, or even the weather. In fact, Chris mentioned personal service providers in particular need to be revisiting their plans with the change in season. We’ll be addressing some of the concerns of the winter season in an article later this week.
- Involve your employees
Not only are your employees a great resource for ideas and information on what is and isn’t working, but if they feel some ownership over the creation of the plan, it will be much easier to effectively enforce. Further, you’ll be able to ease some of their own anxieties about the safety of their working environment.
- Call the WorkSafeBC Prevention Information Line. They understand that every business is different, and that not every control suggestion is realistic or effective for every business. They want to help you in any way they can to be compliant with COVID safety measures — so don’t hesitate to reach out.
And finally, if you or an employee experiences any symptoms that you contact a healthcare worker for guidance on the next steps. This is essential, as if a case emerges, there will be contact tracing.
If you’d like to view the full presentation (or other from the Build. Grow. Thrive. Virtual Event), you can find it here.