News & Information Blog

How Technology Can Assist with Social Distancing

By Mike Harper | 04/05/2020

The adoption of safety management technology spans everywhere from a few paper forms sitting around the office to completely automated desktop and mobile apps.  Most companies fall into the majority category of having some form of technology to help manage safety processes but are still reliant on paper and other physical forms of process execution.  Even if practiced diligently, social distancing has a least common denominator aspect – those “things” that are passed from person to person.

Depending upon the strain, Coronavirus (COVID-19) can live anywhere from minutes to five days on paper.  Now think about all of the touchpoints your paper-based processes have.  A few of those may include:

  • Staff completing a Safety Observation that gets turned into the Safety Manager.
  • An employee completes and turns an Accident Report into either their Supervisor, Safety Manager or HR.
  • An employee completes a sign-off sheet on having completed their training. This is received by their Supervisor, who then sends it on to the Safety Manager and HR.
  • Each day a number of employees perform inspections and complete paper forms that get turned into the Safety Manager.
  • Possibly many, many more common points of exposure.

You can think of these processes as germ “bus routes” throughout your organization.  Normally, the risk is pretty low.  Maybe some extra precautions are normally taken during a bad flu season.  With a pathogen such as COVID19 that has such high transmitability, trying to keep hands, paper, pens, desks, etc. sanitized is quite a challenge.

At the moment, in some parts of the country, this may not be a big cause for concern.  In those areas heavily impacted, this might mean the difference between running at 90% capacity vs. having to reduce to 50% or less capacity due to an on-premise outbreak.

The reality is that there is now effective and affordable software available that can reduce and/or eliminate this germ transit system.  Safety Managers, HR, and possibly others within the organization will have their own computers to work on.  Other employees can do what needs to be done on their phone.  Worst case scenario is a shared computer or tablet.  In this scenario, sanitization between uses, the use of disposable gloves, and the relatively easy to clean hard surface nature of computers and tablets can all reduce the risk of transmission.

Many experts are now in agreement that we are going to be battling outbreaks of this virus until we have a vaccine, which is most likely 14-18 months away.  As much as it may seem counterintuitive to some to adopt something new in such already “interesting” times, implementing a tool that reduces and protects both your company’s risk as well as the health and well-being of your employees, might just be the prudent thing to do.

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