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By: Pat Austin, Loss Prevention Representative and Environmental Representative

Although COVID-19 is new, many of the same methods used to prevent other infectious diseases can effectively stop the spread of COVID-19.

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At this time, it is likely that every essential business has implemented a plan to help in the prevention of COVID-19, but it is our responsibilities to continually update and adapt.

When evaluating the workplace we must have a good plan of action to keep employees and customers safe.

Step 1: Eliminate the HazardThe Remote Workplace

Step 2: Isolate People from the HazardChange the Way We Work

Step 3: Safety When We Must Have ContactTake Proper Precautions

Step 4: Last Line of DefensePersonal Protective Equipment

Other Best Practices

Safe Operations Cleaning Checklist


Eliminating the Hazard – The Remote Workplace

The first line of defense against the spread of the virus is to eliminate the hazard.  Welcome to the remote workplace.  Set up employees whom have the capability to perform their job functions remotely to do so.

This will likely only pertain to a select few within the business, but none the less it is an important step.

Now, person to person interaction may not be able to be eliminated but the risk for customers and your employees can be minimized by creating a new work practice when taking a vehicle in for service.

It is believed the coronavirus can live in the air for up to 3 hours.  A window can be created to eliminate the hazard.  If the customer or business has the ability build in a 3 hour buffer before getting into the vehicle for service and a 3 hour buffer before returning the vehicle to the customer it drastically reduces or all together eliminates the risk.

This is certainly a practice that can be put into place at a collision center.  Talk with the insurance carrier and let them know that you would like to build in this buffer time prior to repairing the vehicle (the clock starts when the vehicle is dropped off).  Also communicate with your customer when they come to pick up their repaired vehicle that you would like to let the vehicle sit undisturbed for a minimum of 3 hours.

The buffer time does not eliminate the need to disinfect the interior surfaces as findings from the “New England Journal of Medicine” state the virus can live on cardboard for up to 24 hours and on plastic for 2-3 days.


Isolate People from the Hazard – Change the Way We Work

The focus of isolating people from the hazard means we must isolate people from each other.

Workstation Examples

Customer Traffic & Waiting Areas

Eliminate Sharing

  • Create barriers between workstations using partitions (i.e. between Service Writer workstations)
  • Place plexiglass in front of any employee who must interact with customers (i.e. Receptionist, cashier, parts counter, service writers)
  • Remove seats from your waiting area
  • Place tape on the floor to direct and contain traffic
  • Place signage throughout the business stating policies, etc. (This starts before they reach the door)
  • Remove any shared amenities from break rooms, customer waiting rooms, etc. (i.e. coffee makers, water coolers, shared utensils, plates, etc.)
  • If possible transition away from touch screen devices (i.e. customer operated debit/credit machines)

 


Safety When We Must Have Contact – Take Proper Precautions

It will be impossible to eliminate the hazard completely as technicians will still need to handle keys and get in customers vehicles, so a process and measures must be put in place to protect all parties involved.

Service Writer

Technician

Customer

  • Disinfect customer keys
  • Pens should be disposed of or disinfected after use
  • Maintain social distancing if possible with your technician (i.e. leave keys in specific location)
  • Disinfect your workstation after servicing any customer (even any contact with a co-worker)
  • Disinfect customer keys
  • Disinfect any area of the customers vehicle you will have contact (i.e. steering wheel, shifter, etc.)
  • Recommend using floor mats, seat covers, etc.
  • Disinfect any items or areas you had contact with when completing job
  • Use your own pen if you have one
  • Disinfect the keys and interior of vehicle when you receive them back
  • Abide by the protocol and policies of the facility
  • Have someone you are in self-quarantine with set up to provide you with transportation if you are not waiting for your vehicle.

 


Last Line of Defense – Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The very last line of defense against the virus is the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). These items include nitrile gloves, masks, goggles, etc.  The most at-risk employees should receive these items if available.  It is also important they are used properly. 

Nitrile glove use has never been higher by employees.  The gloves are only effective if they are used properly. 

Glove Removal Do's And 


Other Best Practices

Another best practice for all businesses to implement is a mandatory hand-washing time.  Employees can be notified via the speaker system, text or email. 

A cleaning checklist for each department is also something that will help keep a safe work environment and serve as communication.  If the facility has a cleaning company this should be communicated and shared with them as well.

When determining how often to clean and disinfect proper judgment must be illustrated.  Although anytime customers come in contact with a surface that specific surface should be disinfected.  It is best to air on the side of overkill and scale down your process as you see fit.

A deep cleanse of the business should take place at the end of each work day whether that be by an outside company or employees.

Safe Operations Cleaning Checklist


Show us what you’ve done

We encourage you to share with with us the measures you have put in place by posting sharing your content here

You can stay up to date on all COVID-19 related issues at https://www.nhada.com/covid19.

Please feel free to contact NHADA with any questions or concerns as we all navigate our way through this pandemic.


Author Headshot

Pat Austin, Loss Prevention Representative and Environmental Representative


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