Houston, Texas - April 3, 2020
Adversity is one of the most powerful forces in life. It can bring out your best or your worst. Ultimately, it’s up to you. It’s the same for any organization.
In these unprecedented times, the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP), in cooperation with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, is encouraging essential companies in the Houston area to Work Safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. This involves essential companies publicly declaring mitigation measures they are taking to be a Work Safe company. This involves signing up to a 10-point pledge to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Yokogawa Corporation of America (YCA) has taken the pledge and embracing a series of mitigation principles across its operations in U.S, Canada and Mexico to help “flatten” the curve of infection, give healthcare systems time to respond and protect high risk individuals. The 10 principles are based on the established notions of social distancing, hygiene, and other policies meant to support a healthy and safe work environment during this critical time.
The 10 principles include:
- Allow all but critical on-site employees to work from home. While some companies must maintain on-site workers to complete specific business critical tasks, employers should allow all non-essential employees to work remotely.
- Employ video technology. To avoid unnecessary exposure, employers should implement tools such as Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams or other such applications to conduct meetings. No one should feel the need to meet in person.
- Create a safe work environment for all critical on-site employees.
- Create physical separation. Health officials advise that all individuals should remain at least six feet apart to avoid possible transmission. Employers should establish protocols that require all on-site employees maintain a distance of at least six feet while working.
- Close communal spaces. Employers should discontinue use of any communal spots such as lunchrooms, breakrooms, meeting rooms and other gathering spaces to avoid unnecessary person-to-person exposure.
- Expand cleaning operations. Companies where workers must remain onsite should increase cleaning protocols of all high-touch and high-traffic areas throughout the day.
- Require sick workers to stay home. To minimize exposure to other personnel, all workers who are experiencing even mild symptoms should avoid the workplace, report the situation to their supervisor and remain home.
- Adjust paid sick leave (PTO) policies. Employers should adjust policies to remove disincentives from people self-reporting illnesses. It is to your company’s advantage for sick employees to stay home.
- Encourage proper hygiene. Employers should provide sufficient hand sanitizing stations, guidelines for proper hand washing and soap at all hand-washing stations to ensure proper hygiene at the workplace.
- Create alternative teams. Employers where on-site staff remain critical should create alternating teams (i.e. morning/afternoon shifts, day/evening, every other day) so that operations may continue if one team becomes exposed and is required to quarantine.
- Restrict on-site access. Employee guests and other visitors should not be allowed access to any office or worksite.
- Discontinue work-related travel and require reporting of personal travel. Employers should discontinue travel by employees to other locations outside of the Houston region. If employees travel outside of the region for personal reasons, these trips should be reported to the employer should they pose an increased risk.
- Establish anonymous reporting. To maintain a safe work environment for on-site employees, companies should create an anonymous complaint channel for employees to report unsafe practices or violations of protocol during this period.
It is in times like these where solidarity is the best antidote for adversity. Representing 1,100 member organizations and approximately one-fifth of the Houston area’s workforce, the Greater Houston Partnership is the place where business leaders come together to make an impact.
With a 60-year track record in North America delivering leading-edge measurement, control, and information solutions to critical infrastructure industries, we are seeking solidarity with other partner organizations to also sign the pledge.