Skip to main content

Work Safe 2.0: Principles to Guide Reopen Houston Safely

Published Apr 29, 2020 by A.J. Mistretta

H_GHP_Downtown_Freeways_2_2019

As the Houston region moves to reopen our economy, it is important that we do so safely, sustainability and successfully. To aid companies planning to reopen or expand their operations, the Greater Houston Partnership is sharing principles to help businesses develop plans to protect the health of their employees and customers by reducing the risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

Businesses have a vested interest in getting this reopening right. All businesses should want to keep their employees and customers safe — and feeling safe – as they return to “normal” operations. Get industry-specific guidance, learn more about the Partnership's Houston Work Safe Program and pledge to employ these principles at your company today. 

This list of principles has been modified from the Partnership’s original Work Safe principles to reflect evolving federal and state guidance, and this list either meets, exceeds or expands on that guidance.

Work Safe 2.0 Principles

  1. Allow all but essential on-site employees to work from home. While companies may maintain on-site workers to complete specific business tasks, employers should continue to allow all but those necessary employees to work remotely.
     
  2. Create a safe work environment for all 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 allow all on-site employees to maintain a distance of at least six feet while working.
    • Close communal spaces. Where possible, employers should discontinue use of any communal spaces 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.
       
  3.  Require workers with COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms to stay home. To minimize exposure to other personnel, all workers who are experiencing even mild symptoms (principally fever, dry cough, sneezing) should avoid entering the workplace, report the situation to their supervisor and remain home.
    • Companies should consider adjusting paid sick leave (PTO) policies. Employers should remove disincentives from people self-reporting illnesses. It is to a company’s advantage for sick employees to stay home.
       
  4. 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.
     
  5. Apply industry best practices to your reopening and expanding operations. National, state and local trade associations, along with leading companies in most business sectors, have developed robust sector-specific best practices to successfully and safely operate in this environment and have shared these resources online.
     
  6. Employ virtual meeting technology. To avoid unnecessary exposure, employers should implement online video conferencing and other virtual meeting and messaging tools to conduct meetings. No one should feel the need to meet in person, even if they are in the same physical office.
     
  7. Create alternate teams. Employers with on-site staff 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.
     
  8. Restrict on-site access. Employee guests and other visitors should only be allowed access to any office or worksite when absolutely needed. For customer-oriented businesses, customers should be allowed access only provided they follow the safety protocols established by the business.
  9. Encourage employees to observe safe travel guidance. Employers are strongly encouraged to follow the direction of public health officials to guide travel decisions outside of the Houston region. Employees should protect themselves and others during the duration of the trip, including following CDC travel guidelines. Travelers from high-risk areas should consult with their medical provider regarding self-quarantining and self-monitoring measures.

  10. Eliminate crowding. Limit the number of customers or individuals allowed in the business or workplace at one time to allow for social distancing. If possible, utilize markings to ensure safe spacing at all times.  
     
  11. Decrease physical contact. Establish measures to limit interaction between employees and other employees and employees and customers. Utilize contactless solutions. 
     
  12. Require employees and customers to wear personal protective equipment when possible. Face coverings should be worn by employees and customers, especially if it is difficult or impossible to maintain a 6-foot distance. Proper training on wearing and disposing of PPE should be provided to all employees, and the workplace should provide protective equipment for all employees unable to provide their own. 
     
  13. Develop health checks. Create a plan to train employees in responsible health checks using proper techniques and protocols. Utilize temperature checks to monitor the health of employees and send home employees who display symptoms. Employees who have a fever or display symptoms of COVID-19 or flu-like illness should not be allowed to work. 
     
  14. Manage confirmed or suspected work-related cases. Implement a process to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace in the event an employee tests positive or is exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Employers must understand the legal considerations related to managing cases in the workplace, including issues around employee privacy. Employers should also consider supporting efforts to stop community spread by notifying public health agencies of an employee with a confirmed case. For more information on what can be done to manage confirmed or suspected cases in the workplace, click here.
     
  15. Establish anonymous reporting. To maintain a safe work environment for on-site employees and customers, companies should create an anonymous complaint channel for employees and customers to report unsafe practices or violations of protocol during this COVID-19 period.
     

Learn more about the Houston Work Safe Program. Get information and resource from the Greater Houston Business Recovery Center

Updated on August 13, 2020. 

Related News

Digital Technology

Digital Skills: Creating Pathways to Opportunity

10/27/21
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a fundamental shift already underway toward digitalization of workplaces and workflows across the regional and global economy. The rate at which employers have adopted and integrated new technologies is increasing. So has the reliance on data to optimize output and productivity and to minimize cost.  This shift means many workers will need to enhance and develop the skills necessary to keep pace with these shifts – and to be successful. Companies are finding themselves in need of talent with the necessary skills to succeed in today’s digital economy, while at the same time workers are seeking meaningful, rewarding work. General Assembly (GA) was founded in in 2011, when the country was coming out of the last recession and recession and tech startups were rapidly emerging, traditional companies were seeking digitally skilled talent, and opportunities for people to acquire new skillsets to pursue careers in these sectors were not widely available. The pioneering educational organizations is known for helping people transform their careers, specializing in the day’s most in-demand skills and for embedding networking opportunities, mentorship and other activities that propel students toward employment.   Tom Ogletree, General Assembly’s vice president of Social Impact and External Affairs, shared during an October UpSkill Works Forum called “Digital Skills: Powering Houston’s Future!” how General Assembly builds programs to meet both employer and workforce needs. “Being able to see both sides of this talent marketplace has really given us a front row seat to some of the evolutions that have been happening as all companies are becoming to one degree or another tech companies,” Ogletree said. “Digital skills are required for categories across sectors, across disciplines, and that there needs to be a reimagining of the ways that people acquire new skills to stay relevant in a really dynamic labor market and a very rapidly changing economy.” GA stays in tune with market needs to ensure that the skills it teaches have real market value. Its in-depth courses help individuals build skillsets and capabilities in areas like product management, data analysis, and user experience (UX) design, and it offers programs to help people completely pivot into tech-based careers. Its experiential and immersive courses are taught by industry practitioners who bring field experience and context to the classroom and are portfolio-driven to allow students to work on the types of projects they will be doing once they graduate and so that graduates can demonstrate the skills they’ve developed through their own work, Ogletree said. The organization’s more basic programs and workshops are designed to help introduce people to a “digital-first” mindset and some of the necessary skills to understand whether they would be a good fit for a type of tech-based careers before they make the commitment to enroll in an in-depth, and much longer – and more expensive (although subsidies and scholarships are available) – course, he said. GA works with employer clients to build in-house tech talent, too – particularly employers that might not seem like tech companies but are increasingly in need of digitally skilled talent. Fewer than a quarter of Houston’s net tech workers – workers in technical occupations or for a “tech” company – are in technical occupations at “tech” companies, and more than 60 percent of tech workers in Houston work at non-tech companies, according to Partnership analysis of the Computing Technology Industry Association’s (CompTIA) Cyberstates 2021 report. GA also works directly with employers to build digital academies to reach untapped talent:  for example, it partnered with Adobe to build a fully subsidized program to bring members of under-represented populations into its tech workforce – the program leads to apprenticeship opportunities with the company. It is currently working with Accenture to source candidates for an applied intelligence/data science and analytics apprenticeship in Houston.  General Assembly’s dedicated career coaches work with students throughout their coursework and beyond graduation, helping them think about how to position their personal brands or previous experience and prepare for interviews. General Assembly boasts a 91 percent placement rate of students within three months of graduating and close to 100 percent within a year, Ogletree said, though he acknowledged that these numbers are likely to show decline during the recent labor market fluctuations.  “If the value proposition that we provide to students is that you're going to get a job at the end of this, we need to make sure that your whoever hires you is very satisfied,” Ogletree said. “When we work with large scale enterprises, we're trying to make sure that they're really seeing a return on investment on trainings and investments in their own people.”    When BakerRipley sought to pilot a program to help adult learners without experience break into tech fields, it turned to General Assembly. The organization was drawn to General Assembly’s approach, which embraces what the whole student for success and retention, including wraparound services through social supports and employment coaches, financial options that provide true access for income-constrained students, strong outcomes in obtaining employment, and cohort learning for social skill building, according to Cara Baez, BakerRipley Center for Excellence Senior Director. A cohort of about a dozen students are currently working through a BakerRipley tech bridge program, where they’re learning technical and soft skills to prepare them for General Assembly’s in-depth education program.  GA’s student support is key, say BakerRipley’s Director of Learning and Workforce Initiatives Angela Johnson and Mobility Coach Diana Delgado. GA’s ability to allow students to “try-on” careers helps them make informed decisions about committing to an educational pathway toward a particular career. Its career support lets students “on-ramp” while they’re in training and minimizes any gap between course completion and looking for (or finding) a job. What’s more: “They have a really robust post-training service that is connecting students to real jobs and real employers,” Johnson said. “Every tool students need for placement is available to them with General Assembly.” “They go into this pathway knowing they’re going to be supported all the way,” Delgado added.   UpSkill Houston is the Partnership’s nationally recognized, employer-led initiative that mobilizes the collective action of employers, educators, and community-based leaders to strengthen the talent pipeline the region’s employers need to grow their businesses and to help all Houstonians develop relevant skills and connect to good careers that increase their economic opportunity and mobility. BakerRipley is an UpSkill Houston initiative partner. See all previous UpSkill Works forums here.
Read More

Related Events

COVID-19

Houston Region Economic Outlook

The 2021 Houston Region Economic Outlook event will share perspectives on the region’s economy and a future outlook. The event will feature a presentation on the national economy by Northern Trust Chief Economist…

Learn More
Learn More