How are you handling coronavirus at your dealership? Your employees are likely feeling a lot of anxiety right now and asking a lot of questions.
We’ve put together some environmental health and human-resources tips to help you manage the risk at work and hopefully help alleviate some of the anxiety. (We’re not lawyers so none of this is legal advice.)
Consider a Task Force
Transparency and communication are important. Representation from each dealership department will help create consensus on how the organization should respond to employees, customers and the public becoming sick.
Here are a preparedness and response-plan topics of discussion:
- Who can or can’t work remotely? Are there resources the business should provide to work from home?
- What should we tell other employees and customers? How should we tell them?
- Hygiene strategies for vehicles on the lot, your facility, employees, and for customers.
- Personal protective equipment: What/how much do you have in stock? How much do you need?
- Are any employees impacted by travel?
Protect Public-Facing Employees
The U.S. Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released guidance outlining how to limit and prevent public-facing employees exposure to the coronavirus. (Wards Industry Voices contributor Brianna Stashak, left)
Your task force should:
- Find and assess any hazardous conditions that employees may be exposed to.
- Discuss employees’ level and risk of exposure.
- Find and implement procedures to limit or prevent employee exposure, like eliminating handshakes, creating physical barriers, distancing/isolating employees and repeated sanitation.
- Determine how best to communicate with your customers about your coronavirus response, e.g., posters, additional emails, etc.
Encourage Employees to Work from Home If They Can
Keep in mind the jobs and tasks that could be completed remotely and the hardware or software that these individuals would need to work on their projects. Think about the necessary communications and measurements your organization would need to put in place to ensure the change still meets business goals.
What to Do If Your Employees Can’t Work Remotely
For those employees, consider the following:
- Set aside additional time and resources to ensure the proper cleaning and sanitization of the workplace, particularly highly trafficked areas
- Display posters outlining hand hygiene, how to contain germs, and what to do when you’re sick
- Place additional sanitation products, like gloves and soap, in easily accessible areas for employees and customers
- Remind and encourage employees to use sick or leave time leave if they’re sick
Remember, employees can’t use the Family Medical Leave Act to prevent themselves from getting sick, but they could use it if they need to care for their own serious health condition or for a family member.
Also check your state’s laws about paid family medical leave.
Masks or No Masks?
The U.S. Surgeon General has already asked the public to stop purchasing masks to prevent the coronavirus. They’re in high demand, and should be prioritized for people at higher risk of infection like medical professionals or people who are sick. Masks usually cause people to touch their face more. They’re more likely to get sick than if they weren’t wearing a mask.
You’ll have to decide as an organization what is acceptable for employees to protect themselves.
Some states have issued “shelter in place” orders. Other states and counties have issued closures for places of public gathering to prevent the spread of the virus. These orders and closures may affect whether brick-and-mortar locations remain open for business for the time being. Because things are changing so quickly, always check with your state and local governments to ensure compliance.
Take extra time to clean and disinfect vehicles or work surfaces. Follow the manufacturer’s directions when using a cleaning spray or wipe. (Wards Industry Voices contributor Zack Pucillo, left)
When it comes to personal prevention, the CDC also put together excellent personal preventive measures, including:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Handwashing is probably the most important step you can take to prevent getting sick.
- Avoid using other people’s phones, workspaces, tools, etc.
- Tissues should be used to cover your cough or sneeze. Throw it out after.
- Avoid close contact with people who have illness symptoms.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home if you’re sick.
Brianna Stashak is KPA’s Human Resources Consultant and Zach Pucillo is the HR consultancy’s Environmental Health and Safety District Supervisor. Contact [email protected] for any further questions or comments.