COVID-19 has impacted the health of our workplaces, from human, operational, and economic perspectives.
Two weeks ago BC went from 300% to just 30% in week-to-week new COVID-19 cases, and the week of April 13th showed an increase of 18% new cases. These are significant decreases as they show continual improvement, and indicate B.C. is flattening the curve, and reducing further risk to these perspectives. I’ll update my blogpost this week with the new numbers.
Even with these reductions in new cases we still run the risk of exponentially increasing new cases if we stop using the measures we are all applying (hand washing, social distancing, and isolation) which can lead to thousands of new cases and impact our health care facilities.
Consider we just had a sunny Easter long weekend. With some nice weather, and the recent stretches of isolation people might have been tempted to shortcut some of these measures and get out of the house.
We won’t know for another week or two, but the weekend could have been detrimental to our efforts to flatten the curve and could erase any gains made in the last few weeks.
If we can stick it out another few weeks there is potential for an even more significant reduction on the long term impact the pandemic will have. There is talk that B.C. may see some restrictions eased, if we continue our efforts.
A few more weeks of low numbers in new cases will have an incredible impact on our health, medical infrastructure, medical professionals, key services, communities and the economy.
This may allow us to consider slowly reintegrating some areas back into some degree of normal.
Gradual reintegration of social and economic activity might mean the economic rebound is slow also, but keeping cases down while doing so may result in a quicker and more sustainable recovery of the economy.
For now, we need many more weeks of continually decreasing new cases to start to build confidence in the possibility of resuming any degree of “normal” economic and social activities.
As businesses, and organizations focus on maintaining some degree of operations at the moment, or consider what is needed should they be able to start operating again in a few months, there are some considerations from a health and safety perspective that should be included in the return to work plan:
- Where and how can workers spread the virus?
- What level of risk exists, and to who?
- Do we have controls that effectively reduce risk?
- Consider an exposure control plan if there is high risk of exposure
- Have they communicated the hazards and controls?
- Are they monitoring the hazards and controls?
- Do staff have means to report any concerns?
- Do staff and managers understand the right to refuse unsafe work?
Safety committees should be getting awareness and training on how to manage these issues at work. The BC Municipal Safety Association and WorkSafe BC have a number of resources workplaces can review.
Our businesses and communities may be a long way from returning to normal, but now is the time to consider what changes may be required if and when businesses and organizations are able to return to some degree of operations.
- What lessons have been learned?
- What areas of the business were strengths and weaknesses during this?
- What is the plan to reintegrate back into some degree of operational capacity?
- If your business is going to be limited, or may not recuperate, what are the contingency plans?
The Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce has a number of resources for business in the Nanaimo Stay Strong section of it’s website.
Continuing to stay the course, assess our workplaces, review what we need to do now, and in the future can all contribute to maintaining a degree of health in our workplaces. Right now, a healthy workplace should be everyone’s priority, from all perspectives.
Scott is a member of Business for Business Networks Nanaimo North
Carbon Safety Solutions is a small Vancouver Island based consultancy focused on helping clients to assess and improve the health, wellness and safety of their employees and the environment they work in and influence. Our focus is working with your team to collaboratively identify and assess hazards and the degree of risk they pose, and making sure your team has the right resources to manage them.