The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected various workplaces. Some offices closed temporarily while other workplaces were deemed as essential. For workers in the health care industry, workplace health and safety programs that were previously important became even more critical.
Workers have demanded personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as new protocols and procedures to address the spread of COVID-19. While the pandemic is a good example of why employee feedback is important for safety, all types of safety programs should involve the input of workers to mitigate work accidents and injuries. If an employee is involved in an accident, they should speak to a lawyer about Workers’ Compensation. A lawyer will be able to help with benefits.
Developing Workplace Safety Programs
Management must be committed to making safety a part of workplace culture and leading by example. This means earmarking funds to develop and implement health and safety programs in a transparent way. Encouraging the participation of employees can significantly improve safety as they can flag hazards as they encounter them. Workers can offer suggestions to improve their own immediate environments, such as addressing ergonomic issues or keeping emergency exits clear.
Employees should also feel confident to speak up without fear of retaliation when they see unsafe work practices being used. Verbal or written safety suggestions should be encouraged and addressed promptly. Employees will feel their feedback is not taken seriously if it is not answered in a timely manner. Managers should notify employees immediately that the suggestions have been received and what will change. Workers should be informed what intermediate steps will be taken to mitigate risk if the safety hazard cannot be eliminated.
In the case of COVID-19, employers and employees must work together to respond quickly to the changing recommendations of government agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While most employers have implemented frequent cleaning and disinfecting protocols for common and high traffic areas, worker feedback shows that there is still some apprehension regarding workplace safety when it comes to containing the COVID-19 virus.
Using Employee Feedback to Improve Existing Safety Programs
Even the best safety programs have room for improvement. The best plans and protocols do not keep workers safe if they do not follow them. Obtaining employee feedback can help clarify any problems in executing safety protocols so that they make sense for the workers who have to use them.
In some instances, blanket safety rules have been made to address problems that only exist in certain work areas. In other cases, safety procedures may have too many complex steps. Few workers will be inclined to follow a safety protocol that is time consuming. In both cases, managers can learn from employees on how to improve safety protocols so that they better apply to the needs of those who are expected to carry them out.
Employee Feedback Related to COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has been an issue for more than a year now, and many workplaces are still operating with employees doing their jobs from home. However, there are industries that cannot function in this way, such as grocery stores and hospitals. These workers are naturally concerned about their health and safety. Surveys show that employees have shifted their expectations for safety since the beginning of the pandemic. Employee feedback reveals that workers believe that high-touch surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected frequently, and employers should be using approved disinfectants.
As employers move more employees back into offices, worker confidence can be improved by clearly communicating the safety measures being taken for protection against COVID-19. Employers should do the following:
- Provide hand sanitizing stations throughout the workplace.
- Provide PPE, such as masks.
- Allow employees to take frequent breaks for handwashing.
- Institute the use of health attestations to be completed before coming to work.
- Encourage employees to stay home if a family member is sick with COVID-19 symptoms.
- Allow employees time off to get flu and COVID-19 vaccinations.
- Use cleaners who are certified in disinfecting through the appropriate authorities.
- Use sprayers, foggers, or misters that reach all surfaces for disinfecting.
- Use tests to prove the elimination of bacteria.
- Display checklists of disinfected areas and frequency of cleaning.
- Display signage that certifies that an area has been deep cleaned and disinfected.
Respecting Employee Feedback
Employers should employ the use of their own feedback to improve safety in the workplace. Managers should use the opportunity to offer praise and encouragement when they spot an employee taking safety precautions as prescribed by workplace protocols. Recognizing specific actions or behaviors with positive feedback reinforces the concept that every worker’s contribution makes a difference when it comes to safety.
Only 54 percent of more than 300,000 employees who were surveyed about safety culture reported that their supervisors offered positive feedback. Interactions between managers and their employees also develops relationships and trust. Creating a positive safety culture at work requires dialogue and feedback from both management and employees.
Pittsburgh Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. Advocate for Safe Work Practices
If you have been injured on the job, you may be eligible for compensation. Our Pittsburgh Workers’ Compensation lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. help employees with work-related injuries and illnesses. Call us at 412-765-7797 or complete our online form for a free consultation. Located in Pittsburgh, we serve clients throughout western Pennsylvania, including Allegheny County, Lawrence County, and Washington County.