The economic shifts resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic likely mean that your business has changed; it may have shrunk or grown substantially since the onset. This may mean changes in operations, staffing and transportation schedules, all of which may change again as social distancing restrictions ease and your business returns to a new normal. Whether you transport cargo or have employees driving regularly for work, some adjustments are likely as you respond to the crisis and adapt to new ways of doing business.
One of the most important things you can do is to engage your employees in the process of restoring operations. Review employee standard operating procedures (SOP). As needed, update procedures, including your employee handbook. Provide training to employee groups on new SOP and include supervisors in the training. Reinforce any new SOP through ongoing supervisory communication and utilize existing corrective action programs to ensure compliance. Consider organizing a COVID response committee, which can help connect management and employees to gather feedback on coordinating both reopening and future concerns.
Before operations ramp up, make sure you review any instructions or requirements from state or local authorities that may be applicable to your business. If reopening, you may want to consider a thorough disinfection of your facility and any tools, vehicles or equipment that are used by your employees. Be sure to include desks, washrooms and break rooms. Product to be delivered may need to be sanitized as well. Consider establishing a program to continue an ongoing cleaning and disinfecting process.
Consider a process for wellness checks and procedures for employees reporting or displaying signs of illness. Work with legal counsel to make sure you are complying with laws and regulations related to employees' health and privacy. Develop social distancing and personal protective equipment (PPE) policies, taking into consideration state and local public health guidance and overall employee safety.
Consider limiting visitors to your facility.
Driving and Transportation
Just as it is important to disinfect your facility, be sure to clean and disinfect all vehicles. This includes cleaning between shifts and drivers. Make disinfecting supplies available to your drivers and vehicle maintenance staff, and stock these supplies in every vehicle.
Your pool of drivers has likely changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. If commercial drivers were furloughed or laid off, review the hiring requirements from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to determine if new applications or drug and alcohol testing are required. Many organizations are revisiting hiring decisions made during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure new drivers meet company hiring standards.
Carefully review staffing levels as your operational pace increases. While it may be tempting to try to do more with fewer drivers, over time, fatigued drivers can lead to increased motor vehicle crashes and workplace injuries.
Customer or Delivery Sites
Coordinate safe work practices with your customers before beginning deliveries. Ask about changes to delivery procedures or physical controls at locations where you make deliveries. Work with each customer and supplier to establish a new practice that can help limit contact between delivery employees and customers' employees. For example, delivery employees may need access to a safe waiting area or restrooms within a customer's facility. Also, there will likely be a shift to e-signatures over wet signatures for delivery confirmations. Make sure employees are trained in new delivery practices.
Review routine activities, such as updates to licensing, certification renewals or medical screenings, that may not have been completed as normally required. Revisit any scheduled training or maintenance on vehicles or equipment that may have lapsed.
The juggle of work and home life has taken a different form for those of us who are practicing social distancing recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. For working parents of school-age children, this means finding ways to keep children safely occupied while performing their job responsibilities, as they work from home (WFH).
Here are six key tips:
1. Expect Changes in Your Work Schedule
By now, you may have noticed that your typical workday schedule is no longer typical. Younger children will require more hands-on help in getting their day started, while teenagers can be more independent and may even be helpful in managing household tasks while you work. The blending of family and working from home is an opportunity to teach responsibility, even in small doses, so you can tend to the work assignments on your plate.
2. Help Your Kids Establish a New Routine
To differentiate work and playtime, help kids set their own routine. If they’re working on school assignments, having them sit down at the same time each day can help provide structure during this uncertain time. Let them know that you’ll be available for help and set aside specific times for fun activities you can do together.
3. Double-Check Home Safety Measures
If your younger children will be out of your sight at home while you’re working, make sure you’ve taken steps to childproof your home to prevent accidents. After cleaning your home, be sure to store cleaning supplies out of reach of young children. If you have a home security system, set up a notification to alert you when a door or window is opened.
You’ll also want to take care of yourself by making sure your home office is comfortable and organized in a way that helps limit potential problems, such as overuse injuries.
4. Reset Your Expectations
Working from home with kids may impact your ability to focus, particularly in uncertain scenarios like the COVID-19 pandemic. Give yourself permission to adapt your work style, realizing that it may take you twice as long to compile a report or finish a project. Working from home means family needs are perhaps just a room away. Strive for balance by arranging your days to fit in all the important tasks you must attend to for both your family and your job.
If you can take a break on a beautiful day, get out in the yard with your kids. You’ll appreciate the moments of escape spent with your family.
5. Stock Up on Fun and Games
While you’re searching online for paper goods or hand sanitizer, add a few art kits or video games to your shopping cart. Now may even be the time to purchase that new gaming system you planned to buy as a special gift. Set parameters around screen time, but realize there may be instances where a little extra play is okay if your kids are having fun and you’re on the verge of completing a task for work.
You may also want to stock up on craft supplies that can come in handy when you need a quick, easy distraction for your kids in order to give you the time you need to meet an impending work deadline.
6. Trust Your Parental Instincts
You know your kids better than anyone. If they’re struggling to adapt to this new situation, they may require more of your attention right now. This means you may need to find ways to shift around work responsibilities. If you have a partner who is also working from home, maybe you can agree to trade off child care duties to ensure that your family’s needs are being met.
Right now, your main priority could be just making it through the day and keeping your family healthy. But, it’s also important to work and provide for your family’s financial needs. Communicate with your co-workers and managers as you adjust your work-life balance.
Consider Whether Your Insurance Needs Have Changed
If you’re moving to a home-based business or using office equipment at home, you’ll need to understand how this fits into your homeowners policy. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact your insurance agent.
Pros and Cons of Buying a House Now
When an unexpected natural disaster or state or local emergency interrupts your plans to start house hunting, all is not lost. While opportunities to get preapproved for a mortgage, meet with a real estate agent or tour homes for sale may be on the back burner, there are still ways you can work toward buying your dream home.
Why Making the Move Now May Be Right for You
House hunting during a time when your area or region is shut down can have its benefits. There may be less competition for the houses in the areas where you might be planning to move, and sellers may be more motivated to sell or more flexible on price. Starting your hunt virtually while sheltering in place can be beneficial if you find you have the time to shop online more thoroughly; that extra effort may give you an advantage in finding a home you love within your price range. Once the crisis passes, there may be more house hunters back on the market and prices may escalate due to a more competitive market that benefits sellers rather than buyers, so taking a few steps forward now could be the right move for you.
Get Preapproved for a Mortgage
When you eventually find the home of your dreams, you will want the seller to see you as a serious buyer. To do that, get a mortgage preapproval before you begin house hunting. It may be possible to get preapproved online, so consider looking into that option. Mortgage preapproval is a letter from a lender that indicates how much you are qualified to borrow from the lender, at a specific interest rate.
While it may not be possible to meet with a lender when an emergency situation exists, such as the coronavirus pandemic, you can get your information organized that will help your lender prepare your mortgage preapproval.
Use This Time to Research the Market
If you are just beginning to look for a home, take time to research the areas where you want to move, the area’s home values and the average selling prices for the type of home you are interested in purchasing. Familiarize yourself with real estate terms and listing abbreviations so you can easily browse listings and focus on the features that most interest you. Finally, ask friends and family for realtor recommendations and check out their credentials and online reviews. Make a short list of real estate agent candidates to interview once you are able to set up interview times.
Virtual Home Viewing
If you were all set to start house hunting only to be disrupted by a natural disaster, state or regional mandates, or even the COVID-19 pandemic, take heart: You can still view houses on the market right from your own home, whenever it is convenient for you. Many real estate agents post virtual tours of properties for sale on their websites and YouTube. When you take a virtual tour or attend a virtual open house, you can get a realistic view of the property. Then, with a click of the mouse, you can see all the details that are important to you. In addition, by touring homes virtually, you can see many more than would be possible in a single day with your real estate agent.
Find a Representative
Even during these challenging times, there is still much you can accomplish in your quest to find your dream home. If you’re planning to buy a house, you’ll need home insurance. Call Calfee Insurance today for a free quote at 508-540-2601.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to review and update policies for cleaning and disinfecting your facility, equipment and vehicles. It is recommended that you increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces, which may include door pushes, handles, touchpads, elevator buttons, faucets, sinks and electronic devices, as well as common areas, such as entryways, lobbies, hallways and restrooms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers steps for properly cleaning and disinfecting facilities.
If infected persons have been in your facility, the CDC provides additional considerations:
How to Clean and Disinfect
Hard (Non-porous) Surfaces
Non-porous surfaces should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
When cleaning and disinfecting soft (porous) surfaces like carpets, drapes and other woven fabrics, first clean these surfaces with soap and water or other suitable cleaners. Avoid shaking drapes to make sure you do not make the virus airborne. Then, if possible, launder these items following the manufacturer’s directions. When laundering items, use the warmest water setting appropriate for the items and dry completely. Otherwise, use EPA-registered disinfectants for SARS-CoV-2 for porous surfaces.
Clean and disinfect electronics regularly, especially if they have been used by an infected person. Electronic devices may include cell phones, tablets, touchscreens, keyboards, remote controls and ATMs. Remember to focus on frequently touched surfaces. When cleaning and disinfecting electronics – both shared and personal – follow the manufacturer’s instructions on appropriate products to use. If there are no cleaning and disinfecting guidelines provided by the manufacturer, consider using disinfectant products such as wipes or sprays with at least 70 percent alcohol.
Develop and consistently follow cleaning and disinfection procedures for vehicles, with a focus on commonly touched surfaces. Conduct these procedures at the beginning and end of each driver’s shift. Maintain adequate ventilation of the vehicle while cleaning and disinfecting. Refer to the sections on PPE and hand hygiene below.
Wash or sanitize hands immediately after cleaning and disinfecting, removing gloves or other PPE, or coming into contact with an infected person. To thoroughly wash hands, use soap and water for 20 seconds. When washing hands is not possible, and as long as hands are not visibly dirty, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer made of at least 60 percent alcohol. Other key times to clean hands are after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose or using the restroom; prior to preparing food or eating; or after public visits or interactions.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
It is important to develop and implement procedures and policies that address the use of PPE.
When was the last time you considered the air quality in your home? It’s easy to forget about something invisible, but like many around-the-house tasks, clearing the air is well worth your effort.
In the interest of health, safety and keeping your home in good shape, here are a few steps you can take to help your family breathe a little easier.
1. Test for radon gas and install carbon monoxide detectors.
You can’t see, taste or smell radon and carbon monoxide, but these indoor gases can be dangerous to your health and safety if left undetected.
2. Run an air purifier to clear allergens and pollutants.
Improve your indoor air quality by filtering out pollen, dust, pet hair and other irritants. If anyone in your household becomes sick with COVID-19, running an air purifier in their quarantine room may provide some protection from floating virus particles. HEPA air purifiers can also help remove smoke particulates during wildfires.
3. Use a dehumidifier.
Is your home prone to dampness? Keep your humidity level under 50% to prevent mold growth. Run a dehumidifier (and clean it regularly) as well as the exhaust fan in your bathroom(s) after every shower.
4. Follow these daily best practices.
In addition to testing and equipment purchases, these simple habits can help maintain your indoor air quality:
What should you keep in your car?
What should you keep in your car?
Are you taking a road trip this winter? Do you just need an excuse to get rid of all the random stuff that has accumulated in the trunk and backseat?
Here’s a weekend project idea: Clear out anything you don’t need and stock your car with a few actually useful items instead.
Whether you buy a premade emergency kit or gather a few things separately, here’s what to consider tossing into your trunk as a way to stay prepared and safe on the road.
Flashlight or Headlamp
A light source is great to have when you break down in the dark. With a headlamp, you can keep your hands free while changing a tire or checking under the hood.
First-Aid and Comfort Supplies
Band-Aids and other first-aid tools can be useful anytime, not just in an emergency. A blanket can protect you while on the ground working on your car. It can also provide warmth if your vehicle breaks down in cold weather. If you have kids, water and snacks will come in handy while waiting for a tow truck.
Stay safe on the side of the road with reflective triangles, flares, a fire extinguisher and a multipurpose tool like a pocket knife.
Keep working jumper cables in your trunk to help revive your own vehicle’s dead battery or someone else’s.
Portable Phone Charger
If your car battery dies, you won’t be able to charge your cell phone in your vehicle’s USB port or cigarette lighter. Keep a functioning portable charger just in case.
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