Going The Extra Mile: How Organizations Can Ensure The Safety Of Their Workplaces In The UAE "Workplace safety programs are the most effective when they can offer detailed inputs about different parameters, allowing companies to make informed decisions about whether to moderate or pause future operations."

By Hyther Nizam

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As the UAE makes its way out of the coronavirus pandemic, the country has allowed both public and private sector businesses to begin functioning in full capacity, provided they adhere to a set of new workplace guidelines to ensure employee health and safety. But with organizations gradually bringing their full workforce back to the office after numerous trial runs with reduced attendance, it is now more important than ever to remain vigilant.

New coronavirus cases in the UAE, after two months of decline, unexpectedly increased at the end of August, with periodic spikes recorded since then. With no long-term solution to the pandemic in sight, workplace safety assurance programs are vital for returning to normalcy while keeping the virus in check and avoiding the emergence of new clusters.

Workplace safety programs are the most effective when they can offer detailed inputs about different parameters, allowing companies to make informed decisions about whether to moderate or pause future operations. Companies should consider investing in the right digital tools that enable continuous day-to-day reporting of workplace operations such as the following:

1. Workplace disinfection and sanitization A cleanliness tracking system allows general hygiene teams to monitor daily sterilization of the workplace before and after employees check in for the day. This ensures that the office areas, surfaces, and common devices that are regularly touched such as pantries, lift buttons, door handles, and printers are frequently disinfected and cleaned. The system can also track inventory such as sanitizer gels, disposable gloves, masks, disinfectant solutions, and other preventive gear.

Related: Dubai Chamber Explains COVID-19 Preventive Measures To Keep In Mind When Going Back To Workplaces

2. Safe workplace entry In the case of employee entry, there are multiple aspects that can be effectively managed with the help of digital tracking. For instance, businesses can circulate and collect self-assessment, contact-tracing, and transportation surveys from employees before granting them permission to enter the workplace. The data from these forms can then be loaded into a reporting dashboard that displays organization-wide health information for compliance reasons. At times when an employee registers a sick leave, self-assessment forms can be automatically sent out to the individual for re-submission as a preventive measure. In case of a sudden spike in new cases, this information can help in quickly singling out employees who live amid or near newly emerged COVID-19 clusters or commute using public transportation. This enables organizations to save time and instantly bar workplace entry for such employees to prevent exposure.

3. Common area usage monitoring Another way online filing and tracking can be beneficial is supervising the usage of common areas such as pantries, conference rooms, and lunch halls. For instance, entry to conference rooms can be secured with ID check-ins and activity logs can be archived. Moreover, once a conference room has been used, the system can be configured to alert the administrative staff to lock down the room until a round of disinfection is carried out.

4. Prompt communications An integrated communications platform with facilities like a common message board for safety updates and pre-loaded email templates can ensure timely delivery of COVID-19 related announcements. On days when the routine disinfection schedule is delayed, messages can be instantly disseminated to employees requesting them to work from home for the day. Custom-built or tailor-made, the right software can help track all workplace hygiene activities, employee health statuses, and information updates from a single dashboard. With the appropriate tools at their disposal, business leaders will also find it easy to evaluate weekly developments, review processes, and relax or intensify precautions accordingly.

With no definite signs that the worst of the pandemic is over, these are very confusing times for all of us. It can be especially hard and unsettling for employees who are returning to their workplace after weeks of isolation. On the other hand, seeing their employer go all the way to ensure workplace safety by taking all necessary precautions, implementing a robust system and meticulously tracking operations can alleviate concerns, instill trust, and boost employee morale.

Related: Six Tactics To Improve Collaboration For Remote Teams

Hyther Nizam

President, MEA, at Zoho Corp

Hyther Nizam is President, MEA, at Zoho Corp.

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