By Caterpillar | Posted: December 11 , 2020 | Revised: April 28, 2022
Educating employees on pandemic precautions is key. JMH is a civil contractor based in Southern California that focuses on oil refineries. Their standard protocol of pairing up field workers in “buddy systems” requires close contact. The pandemic has forced JMH to make changes to processes so employees can work together safely without sacrificing productivity. Those new processes require training and constant reinforcement.
“We already had an online training site in place, so we could quickly offer employees a COVID-19 training program,” said JMH Vice President of Development Jeffrey Atwan. “It’s very thorough, and workers are even tested on their knowledge to ensure that they understand how to stay safe.”
Rethink how, when and where people physically work together. JD Pasquetti, a general engineering contractor in Northern California, analyzed work week routines. Then, they made some simple safety modifications, such as moving indoor meetings outdoors so that foremen could stand six feet apart. The company also developed a COVID-19 checklist as part of its daily huddles.
“People are at the heart of our business. With 75 employees, if there’s an outbreak that affects even 15 people, it could decimate our work force. That’s why it’s so important to change up our routines so that everyone stays healthy,” explained Jeremiah Conley, general superintendent with JD Pasquetti.
A little innovation goes a long way. When COVID-19 first hit, Dean Snyder Construction in Clear Lake, Iowa took the usual safety precautions by disinfecting work areas, doorknobs, tabletops, tools and equipment. But the company’s Ankeny facility went one step further—they developed the concept of portable handwash stations, which are now on 30 jobsites.
Stations consist of a washbasin on a pallet. Once onsite, they’re connected to a hose to provide a convenient way for workers to wash their hands, especially where sinks are in limited supply. Even better, the stations are very mobile. Dean Snyder’s HR Director Brian Carrott explains, “Because the station is secured to a pallet, it’s easy to put on a trailer and haul down the road in a pickup truck.”
Create an environment that makes employees feel safe and supported – both physically AND mentally. Jeffrey from JMH said that keeping extra focus on maintaining a positive culture is critical to their overall safety efforts. He keeps an open-door policy so that employees feel comfortable approaching him.
“If people are concerned about having a COVID-19 symptom, I tell them to call me. Get tested. Take quarantine time. They don’t have to feel afraid or ashamed to come forward. They won’t be judged or let go. We strive to have a culture that’s open, supportive and caring.”
Little steps go a long way to combat pandemic challenges. Ensure employees are well-trained. Make simple changes to daily routines. Think outside of the box. Nurture a positive culture. These can help keep workers safe, healthy and happy, not only during COVID-19, but every day.
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