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Millions of people have been displaced from their workplaces since the beginning of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, resulting in many Americans performing their jobs from their homes. Being in this uncharted territory is leaving many employees unsure of when they’ll resume their daily commutes and return to their pre-pandemic routines. Small business owners and managers also must determine safety plans to the workplace, whenever that may be.

Following are three steps business owners and managers can consider as they prepare to safely welcome employees back to work:

1–Make safety a priority:

Small business owners and managers need to understand the importance of fostering a workplace safety culture, which includes approaching safety as a consistent, integrated strategy rather than a one-time effort. Safety shouldn’t just be discussed once in a “welcome back” meeting for the team. It should be incorporated into the business’ culture as well as employees’ everyday routines and job-specific training. In order to keep this consistency, everyone needs to be engaged and safety has to be prioritized.

Leadership is a key ingredient for how safety measures and protocols become commonplace. First off, business owners and managers should create and implement a workplace safety plan specific to their business. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), committing to a safety plan can increase worker productivity, mitigate risk and reduce the likelihood of workers’ compensation insurance claims. Leaders must also set the tone, encourage and enhance employee engagement and continuously improve safety strategies. Some ways to do this include encouraging workers to report any safety concerns and soliciting feedback from employees on ways to make their jobs safer.

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