Life Safety Merges with Health Safety During COVID-19

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Brothers Fire & Security has learned a lot about life safety services in the 20+ years we’ve been in business. But the challenges of COVID-19 have taught us an unexpected and valuable lesson: Life safety systems and health safety issues have merged. Dealing with these two mission-critical issues has become essential to your business.

For decades, it wasn’t unusual for people to go to work sick. According to an October 2019 survey by Accountemps, 90 percent of professionals admitted they have gone to work with cold or flu symptoms. Fifty percent say they have too much on their plate to miss work; another 40 percent don’t want to use sick time.

But that attitude has quickly changed. Because of COVID, sick employees are staying home, even if they have another illness. We’re learning to take better care of ourselves and be considerate of the health of our co-workers and customers as we adjust to the “new normal.”

Balancing Life Safety Services with Health Safety Issues

Working at home has become feasible when we’re sick, but as pandemic conditions improve, more people will be returning to the office in the coming weeks. There’s a lot that business leadership needs to think about to ensure the ongoing health and safety of our staff, customers, vendors, and ultimately, our businesses. After all, we can’t afford employees getting sick, which may require us to shut our doors temporarily.

Making adjustments on how we operate our business takes careful evaluation and planning. It’s important to balance the health of all concerned with the fire and security issues for compliance. Here are issues we need to address.

  • First and foremost, we need to keep employees and customers safe because COVID-19 is not yet fully behind us.
  • We need to be empathetic with people as we maintain social distancing, take temperatures, disinfect environments, and wear masks.
  • Management must deal with important safety recommendations and protocol set up by the Center for Disease Control and local government.
  • While there will be added expenses to maintain health protocol, fire and security are not areas to cut expenses since insurance carriers may deny claims if systems are not maintained and up to code.

Temperature Checks

While temperature checks are becoming routine for many businesses, the question I have for you is: Are you set up to properly conduct temperature checks of staff, vendors, and customers?

The Society for Human Resource Management offers advice.

  • Employers can have a willing volunteer take temperatures. With proper training, personal protective equipment, a thermometer and an understanding of confidentiality considerations, a nonmedical professional can take temperatures to help keep the workplace safe. It would be ideal if your business has an on-site nurse or EMT who can take temperatures, but for most of us, it’s simply not practical, affordable, or realistic to expect a medical professional to be available.
  • Options for thermometers range from the simple to medically sophisticated.
    • Oral thermometers are more readily available but must have plastic tips that detach and are discarded after taking every individual’s temperature.
    • A contact forehead thermometer is fast and accurate but must be cleaned with a new alcohol wipe after each use.
    • The best method is a non-contact/touchless infrared thermometer with auto-measurement (forehead/temporal artery thermometers).
  • Develop a corporate policy to address temperature checks.
    • How will an employer select an employee to administer the checks?
    • How will that employee be protected from the virus?
    • What happens if an employee’s temperature is elevated?
    • How will the privacy of employees be protected?
    • How will this action affect employee morale?

Wearing Masks

A growing number of businesses have made wearing a mask mandatory. Perhaps you’re considering this too. Is your leadership team prepared to deal with issues like mask fatigue: difficulty breathing, it’s hot, it’s awkward to use with certain tasks. Mayo Clinic and Prisma Health have insight into this concern.

I encourage you to check the Center for Disease Control website, which has a lot of COVID-19 resources for businesses.

Fire and Security Vendors, Access Systems

I have two additional and vital life safety and health safety issues you need to consider:

  • Consolidating vendors makes good sense and good “cents.” Yes, everyone wearing masks and taking temperatures can be effective, but the fewer people involved in servicing, inspecting, and repairing, the lower the risk and the lower the cost. Now is a good time to look into bundling Brothers Fire & Security’s services.
  • Are your card access systems up to date with your current and changing workforce in terms of levels of access, hours, etc.?

We can help you work through these and other life safety/health safety issues. Give us a call and we’ll discuss your needs and solutions. Remember, Brothers Fire & Security is your strategic partner and is happy to help you navigate the challenges we’re all facing.

About Brothers Fire & Security

As one of the premier providers of fire and security solutions in the Upper Midwest, Brothers Fire & Security strives to build long-term, value-added relationships. We work with business owners and property management companies, as well as all types of public institutions to solve fire and security needs. By taking advantage of our integrated bundled services, many of our clients find that they can save 25-30% on their safety services, annual inspections and more. From a single location to franchises throughout the region and the country, our integrated approach saves our clients valuable time, money, and stress. We provide fire protection systems, security systems, fire sprinkler systems, fire alarm systems, 24-7 monitoring, fire extinguishers, card access and kitchen hoods. And coming soon, our new Online Academy: Life Safety — Made Simple with eLearning courses designed to help you get and keep your staff trained and your business fire and security code compliant.