During its seventh meeting since being founded to address issues arising due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the PESA HSEQ Task Force continued its work to identify best practices for managing worker health and safety in a quickly changing environment.
The June 9 virtual meeting focused on what companies can do to ensure a smooth and safe transition as more employees return to work at company facilities. A sub-committee is working on a process flow chart for managing suspected COVID-19 cases in the workplace. This document will facilitate communication between all parties involved. Once the document is complete, it will be made available on PESA’s COVID-19 Resources page.
A second sub-committee is working on a COVID specific Fit for Duty document that can be incorporated into existing company processes. This document will contain a risk model component, which will be completed soon and posted online.
With the staggered return of employees to the job site, managers are dealing with two groups of employees; those who are just returning to work and those who have been at the work site for several weeks. With the first group, managers are reassuring employees that the work environment is safe. With the second group, employers are seeing complacency and fatigue with PPE, predominantly with wearing masks. Companies are handling this issue with continuing education and reminders in the form of posters around the workplace. A certain amount of pragmatism and flexibility must be used in order to maintain a safe environment.
Task force members believe it is likely that new COVID-19 cases will arise in the workplace and there is concern about how liability issues will be handled. Tim Tarpley, Vice President, Government Affairs for PESA, told the committee PESA is working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and several other trade organizations to push Congress to quickly pass targeted liability protection. Last week, this coalition sent a letter to Congress urging action. The HSEQ Task Force will continue its work developing best practices to manage issues as they arise.