Beyond OSHA Guidelines – Keeping Your Plant Safe In The Age Of COVID
“The 21st Century has begun as an era of uncertainty, with a heightened focus on security and public safety.” Gavin Newsom, Governor of California
It’s stating the obvious to say that the COVID 19 pandemic has caused widespread damage to the economy.
Unfortunately, even with millions of jobs lost, and thousands of businesses going bankrupt, the economic impact of the virus is yet to be ascertained fully because uncertainty about vaccines and treatments still prevail.
However, governments everywhere are being forced to open up and allow businesses to operate to minimize the economic impact and prevent even more job losses. It’s a hard choice, but an inevitable one it would seem.
This situation transfers some of the responsibility for maintaining public health onto companies and individuals. Working models and personal habits will have to change in the interest of the safety of the community.
In fact, the workplace of the near future, irrespective of industry, is likely to undergo massive transformation to accommodate safety norms like social distancing and sanitization protocols, as yet, the only known ways to prevent COVID 19 from spreading uncontrollably.
For factory units or plants, where people need to be present physically within the plant premises for daily operations, it is important to adhere to the latest guidelines issued by OSHA. But will merely following the guidelines issued by OSHA ensure that your workplace remains safe from potential health threats posed by visitors?
The answer may well be “NO”.
A typical workplace or plant will be visited by numerous outsiders daily. These visitors may be customers, partners, vendors, or suppliers, guests or acquaintances of staff, or even interview candidates.
Clearly, a comprehensive safety strategy must account for visitors to be robust and foolproof. They must build and deploy comprehensive safety strategies across their units that always leverage technology to ensure that even visitors to the plant are adequately managed without risking the safety of staff in the workplace.
So, what can technology do to keep your plant safe beyond the OSHA guidelines in the specific context of visitor management?
Let’s examine 4 key activities where technology can help bring about a considerable change in your daily operational routine within the factory or plant to enhance safety in these challenging times.
A key activity that creates the need for a lot of physical contact with surfaces is the handling of registers and records that track the activities of visitors. Entry and exit logs, activity reports, entry permits and approvals, etc. are mostly paper-based. These can be easily moved to secure cloud-based applications which can help your security and other staff manage visitors and their requirements without having to request them to manually handle documents or registers.
While on the subject of check-in, it’s worth mentioning that biometric check-in solutions for employees also pose a risk. Fingerprint scanners and kiosks could become significant points of failure given that they are physically accessed (and touched) by many people. There’s much that can be done to make this process safer but more on that in subsequent posts.
The check-in experience for visitors at the workplace or your factory can be made completely contactless to prevent unnecessary contact. With technology, you can generate and print a QR code that visitors can scan from their smartphones to check into the visitor management system. The QR based system can validate the visitor’s awarded pass or credentials provided during the time of booking the visit. If you need more powerful authentication processes, you can leverage options such as facial recognition for permitting visits to more restricted areas of the plant. It is also possible to integrate contactless temperature sensors into the check-in systems to achieve a more elevated level of measuring symptoms of visitors to refuse entry if needed.
Monitor and Record Visits
After enabling visitors to enter the plant premise and successfully check-in, the next goal of businesses is to ensure that all activities of the visitor are tracked. Technology can help track and record the meetings they attend, places they visit, materials they carry when they enter the premises, people they meet, and the duration of their stay within the site. Apart from being a more robust security approach, this data can be crucial if contact tracing has to be carried out if the visitor reports an infection later. With technology, it is possible to manage all this data scalably and securely on the cloud. Obviously, upon request by the authorities, such information can also be passed on for contact tracing or other mechanisms.
Visitors will usually be coming to meet someone specific. Under the current circumstances, it is best to avoid situations where they have to wait within the premises before the meeting. Meetings will, obviously, be scheduled based on the availability of the employee who will be attending to the visitor and the visitor management solution can approve the entry of the visitor just in time for the meeting. The appropriately timed entry for the visitor, hassle-free check-in, and seamless meeting experience will ensure minimum necessary exposure and the safety of both parties all the time.
Of course, visitor management solutions have been in focus for a while now since they save a lot of manual effort by digitally capturing visitor information. Using technology also creates a more welcoming experience for each visitor. But now, with the help of technology, businesses can adopt a more well-rounded safety posture that factors in visitor management too.
This is because managing visitors to the workplace is set to become a priority for businesses once their plants open in this new safety environment. The aim will be to make it easy to manage all visitors to an organization’s premises without having them come into close physical proximity with staff or handle materials. Safety is in focus, and organizations are committed to looking beyond the OSHA guidelines to ensure the well-being of their employees, visitors, and the community.
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