Safety is one of our core values—it’s both a mindset and a commitment at FZ, and we strive to do everything we can to protect it. But when cases of COVID-19 emerged in the U.S., keeping people safe became more complicated. With increased demands around COVID-related safety procedures, nationwide panic, and just general stress and fatigue in our organization, our Safety Team had to ensure that our regular safety processes were still being prioritized.
So, here are some of the ways our team helped keep our employees, customers, and our communities stay safe during COVID-19.
COVID-19 Response Team
At the very beginning of COVID, we assembled a task force called the ‘COVID-19 Response Team’ who would meet regularly to discuss the ever-changing regulations, processes, and communication around COVID-19. This team was intentionally made up of members who represented all levels and groups at FZ. These different perspectives allowed our team to keep a pulse on FZ’s varying internal needs and challenges and helped direct what our next steps were.
COVID-19 Safety Handbook
Based on CDC guidelines, we developed and implemented a COVID-19 Safety Handbook. Aimed at providing a safe and energizing workplace for our employees, our handbook laid out symptom monitoring, testing, our work-from-home policy, daily QR code screening, our travel policy, and our return to work plan. Our handbook was adaptive and provided our extended team with the information they needed to be successful and safe throughout the ever-changing situation.
In order to reduce contact and the spread of germs, our office staff quickly shifted over to working remotely. We emphasized the need for leaders to stay in constant communication with their teams in order to keep them motivated and informed. Our office staff also migrated over to working primarily through Microsoft Teams and adapted to new standards for remote meetings and workflow.
Modified the field
Understandably, our field team required extra accommodations and planning in order to work safely. First, we implemented a social distancing policy and required employees to wear masks whenever working 6 feet apart was not possible. Across our jobsites, we distributed personal bottles of hand sanitizer and ensured that our office spaces and jobsites were clean, orderly, and stocked with extra cleaning products. In response to feedback from the field and in an effort to improve the experience of wearing a mask, we provided anti-fogging wipes, more frequent breaks, and more fans on site for ventilation. We also shifted to favor work that could be done outside rather than within small spaces. In the early stages of COVID-19, we also phased our work out of high risk, high-contact areas like hospitals and instead moved towards low-occupancy areas to perform maintenance work.
Offering a Choice
With many employees wondering about the state of work, it was important that we remained transparent about the risks we faced. Naturally, we had many employees on either side of the fence—some wanting to continue work and others who feared to return because of the risk. In order to honor all perspectives, we gave employees the choice in how they wanted to approach continuing work, allowing them to take PTO or time off if they still felt unsafe with the additional safety protocols.
Adjusted our safety meetings
Daily toolbox talks provide a necessary platform for keeping safety top of mind on project sites. Because of the close proximity that these meetings required prior to COVID-19, we needed to adapt the process to meet necessary protocols. Instead of continuing our daily safety meetings with the whole crew as usual, we separated into much smaller groups with some jobsites completing daily JSAs on an individual basis. For both toolbox talks and our daily safety plan, we focused our content around COVID-19 updates as well as normal safety hazard awareness. Additionally, we held virtual meetings with our foremen and site administrators on how to conduct an investigation if an employee got sick. Our focus throughout it all remained on keeping our employees safe—whether that be from COVID-19 or normal safety risks.
Over these past seven months, we’ve been impressed by our team’s ability to adapt, overcome, and continue to solve our customers’ most challenging problems. Their resilience and dedication behind-the-scenes have allowed many of our customers’ essential work to continue. As we continue to evolve our processes and learn more about the situation at large, we know that no matter where we are working, we will be ready, equipped, and staying safe.
Learn more about Brandi and her role at FZ.
Director of Safety
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