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Has COVID-19 Created a New Standard for Health & Safety?

June 18, 2020

Six Modu-Loc employees stand 2 metres apart in front of a lake, with the title "Has COVID-19 Created New Standards for Health & Safety?"

We have had to make a number of changes and sacrifices in our personal day-to-day lives due to COVID-19. We are now lining up to enter stores, wearing masks in public, and avoiding large gatherings. All of these new measures and rules are essential to keep ourselves, and those around us, safe.

Of course, all these new rules that impact our personal lives are also changing the way we behave in the workplace. Employers are making these changes for the good of their people. Over the past few months, you have probably heard the phrase”When COVID is over…” or “after all this…” quite a few times. But will we ever really let go of these measures completely? Or will these new Health & Safety practices stick?

Will We Be Practising COVID-19 Practices Post-COVID?

We took the time to speak with Bill Matthews, Modu-Loc’s VP of Operational Risk and resident expert in everything safety. Bill has been working diligently during this crisis to keep our workers safe. We wanted to look at how he has handled the changes to Health & Safety regulations so far, and see whether he thinks these new practices will become standard.

What new practices has Modu-Loc put in place since the COVID-19 pandemic began?

“Here are just a few changes, as there are truly too many to list them all:

  1. Right from the very onset, we implemented enhanced hand washing stations throughout our facilities. We purchased portable hand washing tables (modified portable camp kitchens) with running water and paper towels.  This made it easy and convenient for shop staff, delivery personnel and guests to quickly wash and dry hands. With this, we provided everyone with information on proper hand washing techniques in various media forms.
  2. Provided every work station, lunch room, boardroom and vehicle with hand sanitiser solution to use in conjunction with hand washing.  
  3. Staggering of shift starts for field staff. Employees are brought in at different intervals to minimise contact in the change room and shop. 
  4. Frequent sanitising of all common touch points in the vehicles, forklifts, offices, lunch rooms and washrooms.  
  5. Weekly calls with all JHSC heads or individual calls from myself to JHSC members have been very beneficial and are still ongoing. 
  6. The creation of the Response Team consisting of key members of the Leadership Team ensured that timely concerns and messages pertaining to COVID got out to the entire company on a weekly basis.”

Have the employees at Modu-Loc Fence Rentals been cooperative with these changes? Understanding? Or have you had any push back?

“Honestly, I have personally not seen or heard of anyone not being cooperative or receiving any push back across Canada. What I have heard is a lot of appreciation for the communication and work-arounds we have provided in our response to COVID.  We have a great team of people across Canada and everyone is doing their part to ensure we stay healthy and happy at work, in public and, most importantly, at home.”

Do you see these Health & Safety changes becoming permanent (“the new normal”)?

“From my perspective, I feel most of the changes we have made will stay in place. Field staff are reporting that they love the portable hand washing stations and our new branded face masks look great and are easy to use. Enhanced cleaning of all touch points will only benefit the greater public, so I don’t see this changing once COVID is resolved.”

A New Normal

If there is one thing that sticks, it might just be masks. Many think masks are here to stay. Masks have become a normal part of worker health and safety, and many people have been relying on them. Workplaces such as ours are seeing that employees like wearing masks. Masks make them feel protected. Some workplaces have not only made mask use mandatory for workers, but they are also refusing service to those who are not wearing them.

Another practice that likely won’t change is the increased level of hand washing and sanitation. We are seeing indications that standards of cleanliness will be higher than ever. Having sanitising wipes and hand sanitiser in work trucks and office desks will likely continue to be the norm in protecting employees and creating a safe work environment.

In the construction industry specifically, we will be seeing major changes to hand washing practices for good. As we heard one general contractor say, “gone are the days that all you had was a bucket of water and a rag” with which to clean your hands on site. Construction industry stakeholders are recognising that the health and safety implications of proper hygiene extend far beyond protecting us from this one virus.

Overall, workplaces have had to make massive changes to the way they do things because of COVID-19. It’s important to remember that these protocols are meant to protect ourselves and others.

It is hard to predict exactly what is going to happen in the future. We may keep some of these new practices, or we could scrap all of them when the threat of COVID-19 has ended. Right now, we should remain focused on being diligent in our efforts, as the battle is not yet won. Workplaces should take all appropriate measures to create a safe and healthy workplace during COVID-19. CCOHS (Candian Centre of Occupational Health & Safety) has a number of resources online for all industry types with tips on how to maintain a safe workplace during COVID-19. You can find them here.

Author: Stephani Hnetinka

Stephani is a Marketing Assistant who has been working with Modu-Loc Fence Rentals since 2018. She enjoys writing about construction, and loves anything and everything to do with temporary fencing solutions.
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