By Varna Boyd, Health & Safety Committee Chair
ACRA encourages its members to prepare for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak in your communities and across the nation and around world where you work. There are many agencies providing guidance on the best measures to reduce the spread of the virus (see links below). In addition to concern about personal health, ACRA is aware the COVID-19 outbreak may have a significant effect on businesses in our industry.
Things to consider and plan for to keep your business running:
- Recognize projects may be cancelled or delayed or travel to project sites may not be allowed.
- Communicate frequently with clients and teaming partners about project status to determine if client is potentially shutting down or postponing work.
- Communicate with staff frequently and clearly about project status changes and updates to plans.
- Communicate frequently about company leave and telecommuting policies.
- Actively encourage frequent hand-washing and disinfecting. Cover noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or use an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available)
- Develop disinfection routines and use them frequently (e.g., frequently clean doorknobs, countertops, desks, and any common area/use surfaces).
- Encourage staff to be aware of any early signs of illness before starting work or travel. Actively encourage sick employees to stay home- now is not the time for toughing it out at work.
- Ensure you check the CDC’s traveler’s health notices (see link below). If outside the country and sickened or have issues traveling home, encourage staff to reach out to a U.S. consular officer (e.g., US embassies and consulates) to help locate healthcare services.
- Identify supply chain partners for ordering Personal Protective Equipment.
- Instill a sense of calm and security to the degree possible to limit staff panic regarding illness or loss of work.
- Design an emergency response/continuity of operations plan.
- Determine essential business functions, jobs, and roles.
- Do you have the resources to have people work from home, to the extent possible?
- As appropriate, consider having staff work in shifts to lessen interpersonal contact.
- To the degree possible, identify and mitigate stressors.
- Develop a phone/email tree for continued communication throughout any crisis.
- Plan for increased employee absences. If possible, identify backup staff for those who may fall ill.