Many businesses will begin to return to in-person work within the next few weeks. With the return to in-person work, it’s imperative employers provide workplace safety controls to reduce potential COVID-19 exposure. Fortunately, there are steps we can all take to keep each other safe. Assigning a Pandemic Safety Officer (PSO), or Social Distancing Officer (SDO), is an effective method to ensure your workplace is practicing effective control measures. Many construction companies are starting to implement this practice, and the same concept can be adapted for other industries.

The PSO/SDO’s primary responsibility is to implement and enforce previously established policies for employees, suppliers, and visitors in the workplace.

PSO/SDO Responsibilities:

  • Ensure workers are traveling to and from work separately.
  • Ensure workers are always maintaining 6 feet of separation and wearing a face covering or respiratory protection.
  • Ensure required meetings have no more than ten people and maintain 6-foot social distancing. Suggest sending meeting information electronically or breaking into subgroups to maintain guidelines.
  • Do not allow workers to share a pen or tablet device. If signing for attendance is required, the meeting leader can sign on the worker’s behalf.
  • Do not allow common water coolers or coffee pots.
  • Ensure all doors are propped open when safe to do so.
  • Ensure adequate hand wash stations are installed/maintained at building entrances, break areas, food truck areas, offices, trailers, and site access/egress areas.
  • Encourage and direct workers to wash hands at breaks and as frequently as possible.
  • Ensure gloves and safety glasses are always worn and PPE is not shared.
  • Ensure all shared tools and equipment are wiped down with sanitizing wipes or soap and water prior to the next worker using the tool or equipment.
  • Encourage employees to bring their own lunch.
  • Ensure no more than ten people gather in food truck lines, while eating, and on breaks and workers continue to follow 6-foot social distancing.

If a job or task requires workers be closer than 6 feet, a task-specific job hazard analysis (JHA) is needed. The task may need to be re-engineered, using an impermeable barrier between workers or additional PPE such as N95 face masks or face-shields may be necessary.

Violation policies, often based on already existing company progressive disciplinary policies, must be communicated and enforced by the PSO/SDO. Taking these efforts, combined with sound employee judgment to stay home and get tested if you are experiencing symptoms (i.e., fever, cough, or shortness of breath) or believe you have been exposed, will allow everyone to remain as safe as possible while working through the COVID-19 pandemic.

RETTEW’s Safety Consulting professionals can assist you with assessing your potential hazards, developing control strategies, training your employees, or by providing an on-site PSO/SDO. Contact Kelly Kramer, CECD, HEM, at 800.738.8395 to schedule a consultation.

Additional Offerings

Safety training and consulting are only some of RETTEW’s 600+ services. Our safety team works hand in hand with engineers, scientists, project managers, and other technical experts at places such as manufacturing facilities, drill pads, and commercial construction sites. We are well respected in many industries and known for ensuring workers and equipment remain safe, which keeps your projects on track and your bottom line growing.