Sure Hard to Handle: How to Keep Your People and Supply Chain Safe and Healthy
18 October 2021 - SHE Software Ltd
In August 2021, quick serve restaurant chain Nando’s announced the temporary closure of 50 of its stores in the U.K. The peri peri chicken giant was… out of chicken! “The U.K. food industry has been experiencing disruption across its supply chain in recent weeks, due to staff shortages and Covid isolations, and a number of our restaurants have been impacted,” Nando’s said in a response to a question from The New York Times.
In the U.S., McDonald’s warned its franchises of a shortage of bags after the pandemic increased takeout demand. There is also a well-documented chip shortage that is affecting U.S. companies from Ford to Apple. Back in the U.K., the McDonald’s supply chain issues are more problematic—caused by a lorry driver shortage—and it had to take milkshakes and some bottled drinks off its menus. The verdict? COVID isolations and quarantining, plus new trade rules associated with Brexit, had reduced the driver workforce.
There’s an old song that says, “I’m sure hard to handle.” These words succinctly sum up how many organisations—not just Nando’s, McDonald’s, Ford, and Apple—feel about how effect of the pandemic on global trade. So, when people, trade, and the supply chain create uncontrollable risk, what can health and safety professionals do about it? Let’s explore the answer to that question.
Risk happens—"What are you going to do?”
As a health and safety professional, you might be feeling disconnected with the wider global trade world, especially if you’re not in an epicenter of corporate business. However, you’re actually a vital cog in the global business machine. Although very few health and safety professionals can control external risks, there is opportunity for you to make an impact on what can be controlled. Workplace safety is a tool you can use to help mitigate the risks to your people and supply chain that you can control.
Workplace safety—for your people
Workers who believe that their employer provides a safe and healthy workplace are more likely to report for work during a pandemic. Clear action and communication promotes confidence in your ability to protect workers and reduce absenteeism. If your company is hiring new people to address shortages, demonstrating that you are committed to a safe and healthy workplace goes a long way to landing top talent.
U.S. employers can consider following the CDC’s Total Worker Health (TWH) program to address the ongoing challenges of worker safety, health, and well-being during this long-running pandemic. TWH enables you to measure and assess what a worker experiences. It collects data to help you understand what to change and provides approaches on how to modify an environment. Most importantly, it encourages collaboration across traditional organisational boundaries to ensure a safe workplace. It’s both an acknowledgement of workers’ existing health, and initiatives to keep them healthy.
Contractor and third-party safety—for your workplace and your supply chain
With many workers displaced or in quarantine, your company is likely to have increased its use of contractors to address disruptions in your supply chain or business. Before you sign an agreement with a third-party or hire a single contractor, here are some steps you can take to ensure their safety and yours when they’re on the job or at your site.
Step 1: Screen the contracting business and its contractors.
Set up pre-qualification questionnaires that ensure contractors comply with your organisation’s standards of safety, quality, and overall corporate standards. For the contractors, use employee induction records. Capture their training certificates, check to see if they have the right PPE with them, make sure they are fit and healthy, and they have tested negative for COVID-19. This testing should be regular, ongoing and easy to report results.
Step 2. Build safety requirements into contracts and accounts payable processes
Your contract should include language that requires contractor compliance with federal, state, and local regulatory requirements, along with company-specific health and safety requirements. This could include participation in a company safety prequalification program administered through a third-party provider and maintenance of an acceptable safety score in their contractor management system. They should also sign a disclaimer agreeing to your health and safety regulations, with the understanding that non-compliance means being physically removed from your site.
Step 3: Establish and track contractor safety KPIs
Tracking KPIs such as lost time rates are a way to advance your contractor safety program. The visible analysis of KPIs can help decrease serious incident rates by holding specific people responsible for them. Clearly visible analysis of KPIs that represent safety adherence and progress can help decrease serious incident rates by holding specific people accountable for them. Consider holding meetings regularly to discuss performance metrics. Review any incidents that occurred since the last minute, along with their root causes and corrective actions. These discussions can help teams and contractors alike strategise for continued improvement.
Step 4. Use technology to support your contractor safety program
The task of gathering, verifying, and auditing contractor participation in health and safety is not quick or easy. Technology like health and safety management software can help standardise the prequalification process across the organisation and give you visibility into whether a contractor meets your safety expectations.
Contribute to a well-oiled economic machine with workplace safety
We all have a responsibility and need to do our part to keep things moving at a global scale, and health and safety is a key piece of this. If everyone does their bit to contribute to safety and protection of their people and supply chain, the wider economic machine will function better. Global standards will improve, and the current challenges of supply issues and falling economic output will be less disruptive.
Want to learn more about how SHE Software can help you with people and supply chain health and safety?
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