In response to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, retail stores across the world have shuttered their brick-and-mortar locations—some shifting to online-only stores while others closing for the foreseeable future to protect the health and safety of their communities.
As the curve flattens and gradual openings begin to take place, it is imperative for businesses to be proactive to ensure the health and safety of customers, employees, and the larger community.
Using guidelines provided by the Retail Council of Canada and American National Retail Federation, we’ve gathered together the key considerations needed to create different COVID-19 retail recovery checklists that help ensure a healthy and successful re-opening.
Return to work checklists
Return to work checklists are a critical part of re-opening any retail location. They form a foundation of what a store needs in order to function during “the new normal.”
Returning to work during “the new normal” means adjustments for the HR department including adjusted benefits, pay, and leaves of absences. It also means staffing issues. Should members of your team be impacted by the pandemic or feel unsafe to return to work, you will need to operate on a tight ship. This can include changing working hours or reducing employees in the store for social distancing requirements.
But perhaps the most visually noticeably change will be how employees and customers interact with the physical space. In the past, an employee could interact closely with a customer, offering help and guidance. This is no longer the case.
Now, PPE policies are a large part of return to work checklists, including proper wear, disposal, and training to keep all parties safe when interacting. Tracking those PPE policies is now fundamental.
After all, improperly used or disposed PPE invalidates their core purpose of stopping contamination. In a recent study that tracked contamination with ultraviolet light, “the most common error made by the health care staff was contaminating the face or forearms during PPE removal. In contrast, those who put on and took off their PPE according to guidelines had no signs of the fluorescent contagion on their skin or face.”
In order to reduce contamination once retail employees are back at work and interacting with customers, employees must follow proper wear and disposal of PPE. Retail stores can help guide employees through proper use by including images of proper wear in the daily PPE checklists themselves, as well as linking videos with wear and disposal instructions.
Be sure to take all these aspects into account when constructing a general return to work checklist and when making decisions for how to safely re-open any retail store, warehouse, or distribution center.
Temperature screening and symptom checklists
Beyond the physical space within the store, the RCC discusses the importance of proactively screening employees’ symptoms before they enter the store.
They suggest that any checks, “should be conducted using the least intrusive methods available (e.g. non-contact infrared thermometers vs. contact thermometers)” by qualified individuals to decrease infection. As well, employees should be asked questions about symptoms or recent travel.
While any captured temperatures should not be retained by employers, a record of having been scanned is crucial to ensure that, should an incident occur, protocols can be reliably tracked and traced.
If an employee does test positive, follow-up next steps should likewise be tracked, including asking them to contact a medical expert and requesting they leave the facility.
Some companies have gone so far as to create employee symptom self-reporting checklists, that employees can complete before even stepping foot onto the premises.
Social distancing and facility sanitation checklists
Once employees have returned to work and are cleared to enter the store, it’s important to continue proper health and safety measures throughout their shift. This is where social distancing and facility sanitation checklists—like cleaning & disinfecting checklists—come into play.
Social distancing in a retail location should include employees and customers staying 6 feet apart whenever it is possible. Many organizations have tackled this by instituting floor markers both behind the cashier and also in the cash-out lines. These same regulations should be applied to breakrooms and other common areas. Using a checklist to ensure all social distancing precautions have been implemented is important so transmission from close contact is avoided.
The sanitation of frequently touched or shared surfaces—like doors, cash registers, POS machines, and keys is also an incredibly important part of managing a retail location during the pandemic. Not only should stores set time aside for routine cleanings, but comprehensive daily cleaning & disinfecting checklists should be built in order to track that all high-traffic areas, staff rooms, and bathrooms are cleaned appropriately.
When completing a cleaning & disinfecting checklist, it is useful to have the ability to take photos or videos whenever something is not up to health and safety standards and to have a signature function so employees can sign off after every inspection and cleaning. This not only empowers employees to be accountable but also provides rich data for those running the cleaning programs to track compliance.
EHS compliance and safety audits
Creating and administering safety checklists should not be done for company optics. Without real, actionable data on how your employees are performing and adhering to health and safety guidelines it’s difficult to prove that an EHS program is working and that employees and customers are being kept safe.
This is made even more important as compliance to EHS regulations might very well be the difference between an organization being permitted to continue operations during COVID-19 or being shut down.
In order to keep safety audits and EHS compliance simple, look for a solution that automatically stores all checklist submissions into a record-system for easy retrieval. Better yet, look for a solution that has analytics capabilities so compliance can be tracked daily and any gaps can be immediately addressed before they become a compliance nightmare.
Keeping COVID-19 retail recovery checklists up-to-date
EHS guidelines will inevitably evolve as the pandemic does and it is a waste of precious time and resources to re-create checklists every time. When looking for a COVID-19 checklist solution, it’s important that you’re able to stay nimble towards any regulation changes that happen and to rapidly update any checklists you’ve built.
This is made even more important if multiple retail locations are spread across state or provincial lines with different COVID-19 requirements. The National Retail Foundation highlights that, “Laws will vary by jurisdiction, and the law is likely to impose different requirements or restrictions on “essential” and “non-essential” retailers. Monitor and follow all applicable employee and customer safety directives.”
The ability to rapidly iterate checklists according to geographical regions is an important feature to have in any checklist solution. Likewise, checklists should be equally easy to complete. Afterall, the harder a checklist is to complete, the less likely it is to be completed.
ProntoForms is a solution that allows those closest to the ground to easily create custom health and safety apps. It’s been used by large enterprises to respond to COVID-19—both in terms of medical asset servicing and health and safety tracking for goods and service organizations.
It’s fast to iterate, easy to use, yet powerful enough to collect rich data and drive safety and compliance decision-making on a global scale. To learn more about how ProntoForms helps large retail organizations respond to COVID-19, book a demo and see why enterprises trust us.