The current global pandemic of coronavirus (COVID-19) is impacting industries in unprecedented manners. Essential businesses that have remained open must find ways to maintain operations while protecting their employees from exposure to COVID-19. This is especially true for supermarkets and grocery stores, who are experiencing a sharp increase in demand.
This article will provide guidance and examples on how groceries stores can maintain the safety of employees and consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the pandemic rapidly changes from day to day, collecting data regarding each location’s risk of exposure is key to ensuring a proper response. However organizations need to ensure the data they are recording is complete and consistent across all locations to be of any use.
For this reason, corporate headquarters need to standardize processes for tracking COVID-19 cases across all supermarket locations. This includes when to document a case, which key data points to capture, and how.
In the United States, we’ve seen grocery stores using our health and safety management software as their call center database for COVID-19 cases from both customers and employees. They use the system to conduct risk assessments based on the severity of the case and to track location information, medical testing information, and administrative leaves.
All of the chain's locations know to enter information in IndustrySafe, meaning no manager is left wasting time and wondering what to do. Using one central system for all their illness reporting also ensures the information captured is complete and consistent.
With a standardized process to capture COVID-19 information, front-line employees know what to report and management is able to make informed decisions on how to respond. Of course, they are only able to do so when their data is in an easily digestible format.
Tracking COVID-19 exposure cases is only useful if you are able to learn from what has been gathered. Effectively analyzing the condition and risk of each location is the key to keeping employees and customers safe.
We highly recommend grocery chains use one central system across all locations to store their health and safety information, but especially for COVID-19 exposures. Using one central system has given grocery chains the ability to sort, manage, and analyze the enormous amount of inquiries, calls, and cases with ease.
With Vector EHS Management, grocery chains have not only been able to document the enormous amount of customer concerns and inquiries but manage and analyze them as well. Through automated reporting, information summarizing their COVID-19 calls is sent on a recurring basis to sponsors and stakeholders.
These reports are HIPAA compliant to protect employee identities while still giving management scope of the situation. Similar reports were set up to send specifically to Human Resources to keep payroll and benefits updated as well.
Having these automated reports summarizing their one central tracking system for COVID-19 cases provides the clearest picture of the situation at each store location.
Proper reporting enables management to quickly make decisions on how to control the risk of exposure to COVID-19. However, the constantly developing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic can make it difficult to implement those controls in a timely manner.
Whatever tools your grocery stores are using need the flexibility for quick adjustments. For instance, one grocery chain was able to make immediate adjustments to Vector EHS Management when they decided to use it as their COVID-19 call center intake mechanism.
All our clients are able to configure special COVID-19 elements for their IndustrySafe recording forms. As updates and re-configurations are made, employees always receive the most current version of the recording form.
A quick reaction time must also apply to updating existing information. Using one central tracking system allows grocery chains to have multiple team members update the same case, preventing any bottlenecks in the information gathering process.
Other tools such as mass communication and alert systems should be utilized for quickly implementing in-store changes. In some ways, it is just as important for frontline employees to understand the latest developments as it is for upper management.
By utilizing its tools and resources, we've seen grocery chains maximize the health and safety of their workers and customers during this pandemic by achieving these three key objectives. The ability to cleanly capture COVID-19 data, easily analyze the situation, and quickly make adjustments is key to mitigating the impact of COVID-19.
To learn more about resources to manage COVID-19, consider signing up for a demo of our safety management software.