COVID-19 has been a whirlwind requiring drastic changes to how companies operate. The hospitality, retail and events sectors, in particular, were hit hard by lockdowns requiring people to stay home. Such organisations have had to make sanitation, cleaning and hygiene safety a board level matter of urgency.
An extremely important measure is the use of COVID-specific assessments to ensure implementation of the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines and even more to keep the necessary trust among guests and customers.
Inspections are essential for making sure that regulations and requirements are not just empty gestures but that necessary measures are implemented across all operations and sites. All businesses should be thinking about how they can ensure the practice of COVID-19 measures. To start with, it’s a good idea to create some COVID-19 inspection or self-assessment checklists to make sure that you don’t miss anything.
What your COVID-19 Inspection, Audit, and Self-Assessment Templates Should Include
Here is a checklist that your organisation can use to conduct your COVID self-assessment:
Cleaning & Disinfection
- Do you abide by CDC cleaning regulations when cleaning hard or soft and porous surfaces?
- How regularly do you disinfect touch-prone surfaces? This depends on the amount of visitors but a good rule of thumb is between daily to multiple times a day.
- Use bleach, EPA-registered disinfectants or 70% alcohol disinfectants to disinfect surfaces.
- Are multiple-use items regularly cleaned?
- Do you disinfect and decontaminate equipment before and after use?
- Is there a 70% alcohol hand-sanitiser available at entrances for staff and customers?
- Do you have hand-washing facilities with soap and paper towels?
- Are soap containers and paper tower holders refilled regularly?
- Have you put hand-washing and hand-sanitising procedures in place for staff entering and leaving the workplace, and before and after wearing PPE?
Personal Protection Equipment
- Have you provided the necessary PPE to your staff? This includes gloves, masks, shields, disposable aprons, shoe covers and gowns when necessary.
- Are staff members abiding by preventative measures? This includes wearing PPE, washing hands and avoiding touching their mouth, eyes and nose.
- Is PPE discarded, removed and/or cleaned after each use?
- Is PPE regularly inspected and replaced?
Guest/Customer contact and safety distances
- Is your staff implementing and practising social distancing?
- Does your venue have limits on the number of people that can be present at a given time?
- Do you screen incoming guests and keep a record of visitors for contact-tracing measures? (For hospitality and event industries.)
- Do you have spatial control measures in place? (eg: physical/ screening barriers, AC/ ventilation, floor signs for safety distances)
Staff training & communication
Have you conducted the following training with your staff?
- PPE training: how to wear it and how to discard it
- Health reporting and checking
- COVID-19 education and awareness. Staff should have access to information regarding the CDC & WHO stipulations and national/local instructions for COVID-19 safety
- COVID-19 prevention and customer/guest management
- COVID-19 Risk assessments
- To create awareness, put up signs, posters, and brochures around your space.
Reporting of issues and violations
- Do you have COVID reporting policies in place including a response plan in the event of a positive case or symptoms in the workplace?
- Have you put an accessible reporting platform in place?
- Is there a way for customers, guests and coworkers to report violations by staff? Can the report be sent anonymously to reduce the reporting threshold?
- Have you established a contact-tracing mechanism?
What The Top Companies Are Doing
The best responses to COVID-19 have come from companies that have noted the value of support and collaboration. They tackle the virus as a unit instead of isolated departments.
Many hospitality organisations have abided by the above checklist. However, some have gone above and beyond.
For example, the Marriott Hotel has grabbed the bull by the horns, setting up the Marriott Cleanliness Council to implement new health standards. The Council states Marriott’s commitment to intensive cleaning processes, mask regulations, social distancing protocols, etc.
The Hyatt has set up the Global Care and Cleanliness Commitment staff program together with the Global Bio Risk Advisory Board. The accredited programme certifies graduates with a new role of ‘Hygiene Manager’.
As usual, Airbnb was quick and adaptive with its response. They allowed greater booking flexibility and encouraged hosts to include new COVID-sensitive amenities.
Some retail companies, like Verizon and Target, have increased wages for their frontline workers. Both companies also implemented new leave options.
What is common in these responses is that hospitality and retail giants are prioritising education and awareness and structured information both flow top-down and bottom-up. There is an emphasis on introducing policies that integrate COVID education across departments as it is not just a concern for the Health and Safety departments. As such, inspections and self-assessments need to become an integral part of the organisational culture and individual daily routines of all employees. As stated here, checklists do help to save lives.
We have seen the detrimental effects of the novel Coronavirus. Many businesses, particularly in the hospitality, retail or events sectors, rely on the contributions of both their staff and the public.
Implementing a COVID-19 inspection procedure shows care for your business and your customers, which is why these inspections should be on every company’s agenda.
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