In 2020, employers faced many pandemic-related health and safety challenges that continue today. In a recent panel discussion on the Future of Business: Workplace Health & Safety sponsored by USA Today, Mobile Health CEO Andrew Shulman described changes companies can make now to foster a safe return to work in 2021. In his remarks, reprinted here, Andrew also explains why the pandemic has elevated occupational health from a “regulatory nuisance” to an essential health and safety strategy for businesses.
For businesses planning a re-opening, Mobile Health provides on-site end-to-end COVID-19 services — Symptom Monitoring, Testing, Respirator Fit Tests and Vaccine Administration— so employers can safely return staff to work. Contact us today for a free consultation.
How have you seen office health and safety initiatives evolve during the past year?
Health and safety initiatives have taken center stage — more than anything we’ve seen before. The focus on safety has extended beyond the office administrator or wellness coordinator and is now the focus of the entire organization, from the CEO to the receptionist. It is front-and-center on everyone’s mind, and is viewed as a shared responsibility by all stakeholders. Businesses are being more proactive than ever before in implementing safety protocols, including COVID-19 symptom monitoring and testing, that are not intrusive to the employee but give a level of protection to everyone in the office.
What advice would you give to business owners thinking about returning to the workplace during the ongoing pandemic?
When asked about returning to the workplace, I first ask about their work-from-home experience. If they answer that their experience has been positive, I challenge them on why they are returning at all. Until we have a widely available vaccine, the safest place continues to be at home. But for many this is not an option. In which case I advise business owners to consider a program like symptom monitoring and testing. Putting any measure in place, even if it’s not perfect, is better than doing nothing! This is especially true with COVID-19 testing where the pros outweigh the cons.
What immediate steps should employers be taking to prepare their office or building for a safe return to work?
Employees will only return to the office if they feel safe. This includes adding measures to maintain social distancing, implementing rigorous cleaning routines, ensuring all employees wear masks, confirming adequacy of the HVAC system, daily symptom monitoring, temperature screenings, and routine COVID testing. Each item, as a standalone measure, is not enough to make your team feel safe. However, when you combine all of these into a cohesive approach, your employees will know you have tried your hardest to keep them safe while your business remains productive.
What tools and technologies have you seen make the biggest impact when it comes to protecting employees’ health and safety?
The tool that has the biggest impact on everyone’s safety is the mask. Simple, safe, and effective, just wearing a mask is the best safety tool out there.
On-site COVID testing with rapid results in less than 30 minutes has the biggest impact on safety. The ability to obtain results on the spot and respond accordingly is a huge asset to organizations.
What do you see for the future of occupational health screening and its role in office health and safety?
Pre-COVID, occupational health was often seen as a service that employers were required to do — and they only did it because they “had to.”
COVID has changed this. Employers now understand that workplace safety isn’t just a regulatory nuisance, but an imperative part of the business and business continuity. Without it, employees don’t feel safe to come to work and will find alternate employers who take it seriously. COVID is a turning point in the world of office health and safety.
In addition to being a full-service occupational healthcare provider, Mobile Health provides a broad range of COVID-19 services, including symptom monitoring, temperature screening and on-site testing. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with our experts on how we can help your business plan a safe return to work.
Andrew Shulman interview reprinted with permission from Mediaplanet USA.