Business leaders overseeing crucial projects care about two things, primarily: that they complete the project on time, and that they do it well. But which bridge do you want to drive across--the one that was shoddily constructed to meet a deadline or the one that went past the due date, but will not collapse?
This month will see a phased and expanded re-opening of businesses across the country, primarily within those sectors considered the backbone of our economy--construction and manufacturing. Illinois, New York, Ohio, and California are a few of the states that have greenlighted the two industries to re-open first. (Italy is also doing this.) This step is a big one; The U.S. employs nearly 7.6 million construction workers and is home to almost 13 million manufacturing jobs. Illinois accounts for 588,000 of those manufacturing jobs (close to 10% of our workforce) and 225,000 of those in construction.
Now that states are answering, “when can we re-open safely?” and in thinking of which bridge we want to cross, the next, arguably more important question is, “how can we re-open safely?”
State and city leaders have made clear that the private sector will be accountable for designing workplaces that protect their employees. Businesses will need to demonstrate a comprehensive plan that reflects the fact that Coronavirus is still very much a part of everyday reality. In Illinois specifically, face coverings, occupancy limits, and physical distancing in warehouses and on assembly lines are required.
Regulatory bodies like the CDC and OSHA have also issued guidelines for employers. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) advises all businesses to adopt a regular monitoring program, which includes “self-monitoring under the supervision of their employer’s occupational health program." In a new OSHA report, “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19,” the organization stresses that large and small businesses alike should have a preparedness plan--including administrative controls and action plan in the event of exposure--before resuming operations. Only by implementing these systems will businesses be able to protect their workers sufficiently. Otherwise, warehouses and construction sites will start to share the disproportionate death rates of grocery and airline industries.
And make no mistake--employees will also hold their employers accountable. Here in Chicago, some essential workers are walking off the job because they don’t feel sufficient safeguards are in place.
As a company that has operated in the healthcare technology space for a decade, mHealthCoach wanted to bring our expertise in workplace health to the businesses that make up the backbone of our economy. Pairing our deep understanding of compliance logistics (like HIPAA) with operational knowledge of how technology fits best in the workplace, we developed Employee Screening Solution, a web-based solution for businesses that want to protect the safety and health of their workforce proactively.
Employee Screening Solution of mHealthCoach provides an organizational system for daily symptom screening, resources for employees who may be at risk, and reporting capabilities so that employers can act quickly if an incident occurs. The solution streamlines a daily self-reporting routine for each employee, generates digital badges scannable by any smartphone, with all information available to employers in real-time. If an employee needs assistance, the app quickly directs them to available testing sites and aid in appointments. If a location detects exposure, leadership can swiftly issue alerts, leverage various tracking tools like “quarantine clocks,” access escalation protocol for at-risk employees, and find antibody test availability. We believe technology like this will help employers show their workforce that they value well-being over profits.
History repeats itself, and if we can learn one thing from the past, it’s that those who do not invest the effort to do something right the first time will find themselves paying much more dearly later on. Employers that don’t enact every safeguard possible will have to deal with a damaged reputation, a dwindling workforce, escalated healthcare costs, and further shutdowns. The first industries to open will be the first to make mistakes that the rest will learn from. What didn’t work before will not work now--simply hanging signs that remind employees to wash hands will not be the cure. Executives must integrate apps and other technologies that are vital to workforce re-entry until we discover a vaccine. As we emerge from this worldwide crisis, let us do this the right way. Let us build a bridge that will not collapse beneath us.
Aamer Ghaffar is the founder of mHealthCoach, an intelligent case management platform for Human Resources departments. Businesses interested in learning more about the Employee Screening Solution solution can visit https://mhealthcoach.com/covid-19-employee-management/.