Keeping Frontline Associates Safe and Ensuring Compliance During the Pandemic
COVID-19 has forced retailers to adopt dozens of new procedures in order to keep employees and customers safe. From occupancy limits to cleaning procedures, temperature checks to documentation practices, these new procedures carry with them an elevated importance, considering the high-stakes environment of the pandemic. If stores aren’t cleaned properly, or you don’t have the information necessary for contact tracing, then not only do you place your employees and customers at risk, but you open yourself up to potential lawsuits and fines.
While retail stores aren’t necessarily a high-risk work environment like restaurants or hospitals, there are still a number of protections that are recommended by federal agencies such as the US Department of Labor and the CDC in order to ensure safety during the pandemic. Employees need continuous access to proper PPE, such as masks, gloves, and face shields, and need to be trained on how to use them properly. They need training on how and when to disinfect commonly used areas in stores, such as the point of sale. And they need to know and follow federal standards for infectious disease preparedness, infection prevention, and identifying when they are sick or exposed and need to isolate.
This isn’t a simple endeavor. Retailers are already seeing a wave of lawsuits alleging gross negligence or wrongful death as a result of risky working conditions. Many retailers have responded to this by increasing COVID screenings and more rigorously enforcing mask policies, but this is only a small part of a larger, more comprehensive approach that retailers need to take.
There are a number of real-time store operations and communications technologies that retailers can use to simplify compliance processes and ensure a safe working environment in all stores. From mobile-first checklists to intelligent time and attendance systems, these solutions make it easy to collect critical health information and keep employees up-to-date on safety standards and procedures. These technologies can ensure that retailers can protect themselves from litigation and keep employees and customers safe.
Here are a couple of ways that these solutions can help retailers stay in compliance during the COVID-19 pandemic:
1. Make Safety Documentation Easily Accessible to Frontline Employees
Even if your retail organization puts comprehensive safety guidelines and procedures into place, they don’t accomplish much if frontline employees don’t know what they are or how to carry them out. New employees need to know how to refill hand sanitizer dispensers and how to properly sanitize the checkout area. And even if managers onboard them properly, it’s likely that some frontline employees will forget how to correctly execute key safety procedures. This not only places your employees at risk, but puts your retail organization at risk for lawsuits and fines.
With prioritized checklists on mobile devices, you can include relevant safety documentation and procedures, ensuring that associates are always up-to-date on the latest COVID-related processes while completing daily tasks. These solutions give retailers the ability to create, review, and distribute organized checklists, making it easy for store managers and associates to complete multi-step activities on time and according to best practices. With this solution, frontline employees who need more information about a safety procedure can easily find the specific checklist they need to complete their work effectively and efficiently.
2. Easily Collect and Analyze Employee Health Information
Having insight into the health of your frontline employees can be the difference between healthy staff and a COVID outbreak at your store. The right system can either make contact tracing quick and easy or make it impossible to know who a sick associate has come in contact with. And the stakes don’t just end there; negligence can leave retailers open to litigation and fines. Retailers need to be able to combat the pandemic by having temperature checks and health surveys when associates clock-in, ensuring that they can quickly escalate health-related issues.
An intelligent time and attendance solution simplifies the process of collecting and analyzing employee health information. These solutions are highly configurable, giving you the ability to customize questions based on punch type, as well as by state or locality, making it easy to adapt to different regulations around the United States. By storing answers to all questions in a centralized location, these solutions give managers a simple way to refer back to this data if they need to follow up on any identified issues. Intelligent time and attendance solutions also make it easier to escalate any issues identified during clock in; managers receive notifications based on answers entered during punches, launching a rapid response to employees coming to work while ill. The solution can also be configured to ask a different set of questions to employees who have been out sick and are returning to work after an absence.
With the winter months on the horizon, now is the perfect time to review the processes you’re currently using to staying in compliance during the pandemic. With the right real-time store operations solutions, you can ensure health and safety compliance, eliminating the risk of legal action and keeping both your employees and customers safe.
For more insight into how you can ensure compliance, check out RSR’s recent white paper, “Workforce and Compliance Management in the Age of Disruption.”