Safety First, Safety Always, and Safety After a Shutdown or Hiatus

As businesses like yours prepare to restart, ramp up, and return to normal production capacities, you can face many challenges including retraining your workforce and ensuring that COVID-19 implemented changes are understood by all levels of your organization.

But what about the normal, everyday worker responsibilities that may have become a faint memory due to an extended absence or changes to physical demands due to a prolonged production slowdown?

To reduce your chances of a spike in injuries and incidents, here are a few things to help prepare your workforce and your business:

Worker Self-Assessment Checklist Considerations

A worker self-assessment checklist is not only a great idea to assess for COVID-19 symptoms, but it will also help your workers acknowledge if they are truly prepared to return to their position. A few worker-related questions should include:

  • Worker scanning his surroundingsAre you physically capable of performing all aspects of your job?
  • Have there been changes in your physical health that could impact your ability to perform essential responsibilities associated with your position?
  • Have there been any changes in your work environment that alter how you do your job or your personal safety? A good tip is to size up your work area with a Take 5 to Scan 10 (take 5 seconds to scan 10’ around you).
  • Have you inspected your personal protective equipment (PPE) prior to using it to ensure it’s in good condition and proper working condition? For example, if you use a cartridge respirator, do the cartridges need to be replaced?
  • Has your Work Statement or any of your job duties changed? If so, are there any new hazards or exposures you need to consider?
  • Do you feel comfortable performing all aspects of your job?

Management Checklist Considerations

As employees return to the workplace, your management team should review their operations, develop initiatives, and take action to ensure that the workplace is as safe as possible. A few management-related questions should include:

  • Has specific equipment sat idle for a period of time and if so, should it be inspected by an expert or third party prior to its use? Is lubrication, adjustment, or other maintenance needed prior to start up?
  • Are there key positions that involve more risk than others that require additional worker safety training or retraining?
  • Are there employees with limited experience that may have a more challenging time identifying issues such as Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) or machine guarding? If so, should I limit their activities for a period of time until they refamiliarize themselves with the hazards?
  • Is the appropriate signage in place to remind workers of new policies and procedures related to COVID-19?
  • Do the engineering controls and other changes implemented due to COVID-19 pose reduce worker efficiencies, create additional steps, etc. that could inadvertently result workarounds or unsafe working conditions?

During the coming months, we’re likely to see a rise in soft-tissue injuries, strains, sprains, and other work-related injuries. Taking a moment to assess your workforce and challenge your individual workers to raise any concerns can greatly reduce that risk.

Click here to download our simple checklist, and if you need help with retraining, job hazard analyses (JHAs), or workplace risk assessments including ergonomics, please contact us today!

Apex Associated Press (Apex AP) represents contributions from various authors within the Apex professional community.

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