Some Digital Tools to Assist Your COVID/Return to Work Plans

Some organizations have been able to continue working during the COVID-19 pandemic “just” by having workers work from home. Sure, there were hiccups along the way as we all figured out online collaboration tools like Jira or Trello, messaging tools like Slack, and how to deal with Zoom fatigue, but for most organizations and workers, these COVID-related challenges were things we could handle (now, juggling that working from home while taking care of your kids and getting them to complete school from home at the same time is an issue for a different article).

But not all organizations could do that. For example, a lot of industrial or manufacturing organizations didn’t have that kind of luxury. The same was true in the construction industry. No doubt you can think of other organizations that had to deal with COVID return-to-work issues in a more immediate, “we need to be at work together” kind of way.

OSHA recently published a COVID/Return to Work guidance, and that guidance includes 16 different elements employers should include in their COVID Prevention Plans. In the article below, we’ve linked you to the OSHA guidance, listed the 16 elements, and shown you how digital tools created by Vector Solutions can help your company implement each of them.

We wish you luck with your own COVID return-to-work program and are here to help if you’ve got any questions.

Digital Solutions to Help Your Return-to-Work Efforts During the COVID Pandemic

In their January 29, 2021 COVID guidance, OSHA recommends that employers create a COVID Workplace Prevention Plan with the following 16 elements:

  1. Establish a single workplace coordinator for COVID issues
  2. Identify where and how employees could get exposed to COVID while at work
  3. Identify measures to help control the spread of COVID, keeping the hierarchy of controls in mind and realizing no single solution will solve the problem
  4. Adding supportive policies and practices to help protect workers at high-risk
  5. Creating a system for communicating with workers about COVID-19 issues
  6. Educate and train workers about COVID-19 and the procedures and policies related to COVID-19 mitigation and control at your organization
  7. Have workers who are sick, potentially sick, exposed, or potentially exposed to COVID isolate/quarantine
  8. Put in place policies, procedures, and other actions to reduce the negative outcomes for workers who are isolating/quarantining
  9. Isolate workers who show symptoms of COVID at work
  10. Create enhanced cleaning and disinfecting procedures in case people who are positive or suspected to be positive enter your facility
  11. Provide employees guidance on screening and testing for COVID-19
  12. Record and report COVID infections and deaths to OSHA
  13. Create a way for employees to raise concerns about COVID-19 anonymously and ensure there are protections for any worker who does raise concerns
  14. Offer COVID-19 vaccinations freely to employees and provide training workers about the safety and benefits of vaccination
  15. Once workers begin getting vaccinated, make no distinctions between workers who have been vaccinated and workers who have not and maintain the same sets of rules (masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing, etc.) for both sets of workers
  16. Comply with other relevant OSHA standards 

To assist with those 16 elements, Vector Solutions offers the following digital safety and health tools:

  • Mobile risk communication & intelligence platform
  • EHS management software (JHAs, incident investigations, reporting/recording, and more)
  • Safety data sheet (SDS) management software
  • Online health and safety training courses and learning management systems

We’ll walk you through a few ways you can use the digital safety and health tools

This is important for all employers, but it’s especially important for employers listed on the even-more recent OSHA National Emphasis Program for COVID with its targeted inspections, which OSHA released in mid-March, 2021.


Mobile Risk Communication & Intelligence Platform

Through our membership in the Vector Solutions family, we’re proud to partner with LiveSafe, makers of a mobile risk communication & intelligence platform. LiveSafe has a COVID/Return-to-Work feature set known as WorkSafe that can help you organization with the following items from OSHA’s guidance:

  • Assign a single workplace coordinator for COVID issues
    WorkSafe won’t assign this person for you, but you can use WorkSafe to specify this person as a COVID point of contact in the application, which makes it very easy for all employees to communicate with that single COVID point of contact.
  • Adding supportive policies and practices to help protect workers at high-risk
    Again, it’s up to your organization to create the policies and practices, but WorkSafe makes it easy to distribute them to workers and allows you to organize them in a way that employees can easily find and review them on their own.
  • Creating a system for communicating with workers about COVID-19 issues
    WorkSafe is all about communication. Easy, safe, convenient, quick, trackable, and anonymous when necessary.
  • Educate and train workers about COVID-19 and the procedures and policies related to COVID-19 mitigation and control at your organization
    While much of your safety and health training may be distributed through your LMS, you can use the WorkSafe mobile communication platform to push out timely COVID-related news, procedure changes, and so on.
  • Have workers who are sick, potentially sick, exposed, or potentially exposed to COVID isolate/quarantine
    Once you’ve created policies along these lines, you can use WorkSafe to push these policies out to workers and inform them. Also, employees can use WorkSafe to report that they’re infected or possibly infected without coming to work.
  • Put in place policies, procedures, and other actions to reduce the negative outcomes for workers who are isolating/quarantining
    This is another case where it’s up to your organization to create the policies and procedures but, once they’re created, you can use WorkSafe to communicate these out to workers, supervisors, and managers.
  • Isolate workers who show symptoms of COVID at work
    Use WorkSafe to communicate in advance to workers what they should do if they begin to feel ill at work and allow them to use WorkSafe to report sickness at work when possible symptoms first appear.
  • Provide employees guidance on screening and testing for COVID-19
    Use WorkSafe to inform employees of your screening and testing policies but also to show them where, on a MAP, they can go for screening and testing.
  • Create a way for employees to raise concerns about COVID-19 anonymously and ensure there are protections for any worker who does raise concerns
    WorkSafe comes with a “make this anonymous” reporting option so when employees do choose to raise an issue with your assigned COVID point of contact, that issue will arrive anonymously if the employee chooses that option.
  • Offer COVID-19 vaccinations freely to employees and provide training workers about the safety and benefits of vaccination
    Use WorkSafe to inform workers of your vaccination policies and also to direct them to the location at which they can get vaccinated.
  • Once workers begin getting vaccinated, make no distinctions between workers who have been vaccinated and workers who have not and maintain the same sets of rules (masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing, etc.) for both sets of worker
    Again, this comes down to using WorkSafe to distribute this policy out to workers, supervisors, and managers once you’ve created it.

Learn more about the Vector Solutions WorkSafe mobile application here, and check out our interview which the makers of the LiveSafe/WorkSafe platform, too.

EHS Management Software

Vector Solutions also includes yet another partner of ours, IndustrySafe. IndustrySafe makes the Vector EHS management software system you can use for JHAs, incident investigations, OSHA Reporting, and more. Vector EHS can help you with the following items from OSHA’s 16-point guidance:

  • Identify where and how employees could get exposed to COVID while at work
    Vector EHS includes a job safety analysis/job hazard analysis module to assist with COVID hazard identification.
  • Create enhanced cleaning and disinfecting procedures in case people who are positive or suspected to be positive enter your facility
    Vector EHS also includes a procedures module for creating and implementing new procedures, such as these for cleaning and disinfecting.
  • Record and report COVID infections and deaths to OSHA
    At the heart of Vector EHS is the ability to record and report injury and illness data, including illness and fatality data for work-related COVID cases. This includes completing your OSHA 300 forms, annual online submission, EHS injury/illness/fatality data dashboards and analytics, and more.
  • Comply with other relevant OSHA standards 
    This is a broad point, so it’s hard to get specific on how Vector EHS can help with this, but just as there’s a lot to OSHA standards not covered in the COVID guidance, there’s a lot to Vector EHS we haven’t mentioned yet, too.

Learn more about the Vector Solutions Vector EHS management software here and check out our interview with the makers of the Vector EHS Management software, too.

Safety Data Sheet (SDS) Management Software

A new feature of our Vector EHS management software is a safety data sheet (SDS) management module. The Vector EHS Safety Data Sheet module can help you with the following elements from OSHA’s COVID prevention plan list:

  • Create enhanced cleaning and disinfecting procedures in case people who are positive or suspected to be positive enter your facility
    All of that cleaning and disinfecting may very well mean chemicals that fall under OSHA’s Haz-Com standard. And that means you’ll need safety data sheets (SDS) and will have to give employees access them. Vector SDS can help with this.

Learn more about the Vector Solutions Safety Data Sheet (SDS) management software here.

Online Health & Safety Training Courses & Learning Management System (LMS)

Finally, Vector Solutions makes a learning management system (LMS) for training management and administration and online safety and health courses to further assist you with your safety and health training needs. The Vector Solutions LMS and online safety and health training courses can help your organization with the following elements of the 16-point COVID prevention plan list from OSHA:

  • Identify measures to help control the spread of COVID, keeping the hierarchy of controls in mind and realizing no single solution will solve the problem
    Although health and safety training shouldn’t be your primary control, it’s likely to be one element in that combination OSHA mentions.
  • Creating a system for communicating with workers about COVID-19 issues
    Your organization can use the Vector learning management system (along with WorkSafe) for communicating with employees around COVID.
  • Educate and train workers about COVID-19 and the procedures and policies related to COVID-19 mitigation and control at your organization
    Use our online COVID health and safety training courses for training workers on the basis of COVID, and create your own training materials for organization-specific training on COVID. PLUS, deliver and track that training with our LMS.
  • Have workers who are sick, potentially sick, exposed, or potentially exposed to COVID isolate/quarantine
    Include this point in your health and safety training.
  • Create enhanced cleaning and disinfecting procedures in case people who are positive or suspected to be positive enter your facility
    Your workers will need to know about your new cleaning and disinfecting policies; will need to know their roles in those new policies; and will most likely need some additional Haz-Com training as well.
  • Provide employees guidance on screening and testing for COVID-19
    Finally, use our online health and safety training courses and tools to teach employees about the purpose and safety of the vaccines, how and when to get vaccinated, and more.

Learn more about the Vector Solutions online health and safety training courses, learning management system (LMS), and mobile learning applications here.

Speaking of health and safety training related to COVID-19, check out our blog article on OSHA’s requirements for COVID & safety training AND the complementary online COVID safety and health training courses our parent company Vector Solutions is offering.


Conclusion: Let Vector Solutions Help Your Organization Mitigate COVID Risks and Get To Work (Safely)

We’re all in this pandemic together until we’re all out of it, so we hope you found this article helpful for your return-to-work efforts whether you’re interested in getting any of the software tools we’ve mentioned above or not.

That said, if you ARE interested in one or more of our software solutions (or the online safety and health training courses), please contact us and we’ll be happy to help you determine if they’re the right fits for your needs.

Before you go, don’t forget to download the Return to Work/COVID checklist immediately below! 

 

COVID Return to Work Checklist Button

COVID-Return to Work Checklist

Download this checklist, based on OSHA’s January 29. 2021 “Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace,” to help keep the workers at your organization safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Download Checklist

COVID Return to Work Checklist Button
Jeffrey Dalto

Jeffrey Dalto

Jeffrey Dalto is an Instructional Designer and the Senior Learning & Development Specialist at Convergence Training. He's worked in training/learning & development for 25 years, in safety and safety training for more than 10, is an OSHA Authorized Outreach Trainer for General Industry OSHA 10 and 30, has completed a General Industry Safety and Health Specialist Certificate from the University of Washington/Pacific Northwest OSHA Education Center and an Instructional Design certification from the Association of Talent Development (ATD), and is a member of the committee creating the upcoming ANSI/ASSP Z490.2 national standard on online environmental, health, and safety training. Jeff frequently writes for magazines related to safety, safety training, and training and frequently speaks at conferences on the same issues, including the Washington Governor's Safety and Health Conference, the Oregon Governor's Occupational Safety and Health Conference, the Wisconsin Safety Conference, the MSHA Training Resources Applied to Mining (TRAM) Conference, and others.

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