The COVID-19 pandemic has brought challenges to all facets of our lives, especially for environment, health and safety efforts in the workplace. For many, it may feel overwhelming to quickly figure out best practices to keep workers safe in this “new normal.” However, one silver lining during this difficult time is the way the safety community is coming together to help keep each other safe.
At the Campbell Institute, we live by the notion that we are “individually strong, collectively stronger.” This is truer now than ever before. We are extremely proud of Institute members stepping up and freely sharing their safety best practices and protocols for dealing with the pandemic.
Many Campbell Institute members have joined the National Safety Council-led SAFER: Safe Actions for Employee Returns effort to share their expertise and learn from others. SAFER is a multifaceted effort aimed at helping employers prioritize safety as they return employees to traditional work environments and schedules in a post-quarantine world.
SAFER and Institute members are sharing their playbooks for prioritizing EHS during the pandemic. Check out the playbooks from Cummins and Dow. These playbooks serve as one-stop shops to comprehensively address EHS items organizations should consider as they make plans for a return to full operations. This includes topics like physical, medical, stress and mental health, employment, legal and HR, communications and external factors.
We asked Institute members why they are freely sharing this information with the public. This is what they had to say.
“At Cummins, the health and safety of our employees, customers and communities has always been valued and continues to be our guiding principle as we navigate the pandemic. As a Campbell Institute member, I’ve always appreciated the valuable opportunity the Institute provides for us to learn from other organizations. Joining SAFER provides a similar yet unique opportunity. Not only does it allow us to learn from other companies that are facing similar challenges of protecting employees during these unprecedented times, but it also allows us to share our own best practices as we navigate the COVID journey. By sharing what we’ve learned, we can all help to reduce risk for one another and our communities. ” Michelle Garner-Janna, executive director of health, safety and environment, Cummins
“Nothing is more important to Dow than safety, and we are doing everything we can to ensure the health and wellbeing of all our colleagues, customers, suppliers and the broader global community. Dow has developed an interactive Return to the Workplace Playbook as a guide for Dow leaders, employees and contractors to ensure a comprehensive and consistent approach to our full workforce return. We are sharing this playbook as a best practice tool that could benefit other companies and organizations.” Mary Draves, chief sustainability officer and vice president of environment, health and safety, Dow
Every organization faces its own unique set of challenges, so the broad sharing of playbooks like these provide a variety of perspectives and approaches to addressing the pandemic. Organizations should find solutions that address both business and employee needs. However, remember never to sacrifice employee needs for business needs. Also, there should be flexibility in your plans, depending on things like essential work, physical distancing capabilities, remote work, COVID-19 transmission rates in your community and underlying health conditions of employees. Be sure to clearly to communicate this flexibility with your workers.
Remember, you are not alone in keeping your workers safe during this pandemic. As things shift and change, the Campbell Institute and SAFER are dedicated to providing the latest information and resources to help the entire safety community navigate these uncharted waters together.
Katherine Mendoza Senior Program Manager, Campbell Institute & EHS Manager – National Safety Council