Return-to-work webinar helps businesses take next step

As states begin the process of opening their economies following shelterin-place orders due to COVID-19, business leaders will depend on safety and health professionals to accomplish that transition in a way that protects workers. The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), the world’s oldest professional safety organization with nearly 40,000 members worldwide, is leading the way with return-towork strategies and best practices that make safety and health a priority for employers in every industry.

ASSP President-Elect Deborah Roy, M.P.H., CSP, COHN-S, RN, answers questions and delivers return-to-work strategies for occupational safety and health professionals in the Society’s latest webinar posted April 29. Roy has more than 35 years of safety and health experience and has been involved in worksite pandemic planning at state and federal levels for more than a decade.

“Some states and metropolitan areas have instituted their own rules – such as requiring masks or cloth face coverings in certain industries – but you still need to address engineering and administrative controls and add a risk assessment to your return-to-work plan,” Roy said. “Facilities may start with 25 percent of their workers coming back and eventually ramp up using a physical distancing approach. A common mechanism for containment is to require employees to stay in their building on a larger campus or remain in their particular office area during the workday.”

Roy’s presentation also addresses the need to conduct symptom checks, design work areas to limit exposure, use barriers to improve physical distancing and maintain a policy on visitors entering the workplace. The return-towork webinar is among many free COVID-19 resources available on the ASSP website, which is updated regularly with webinars, podcasts, articles and links to government and public health authorities.

The valuable role of occupational safety and health professionals in the nation’s coronavirus response has been recognized by the federal government in its updated guidance on essential infrastructure workers, which includes safety professionals. States reference this guidance in developing their specific response and recovery plans.

For more information about ASSP and its widespread efforts to keep workers safe today and post-pandemic, visit www.assp.org.