With the pandemic’s latest surge and the public health crisis approaching 2 years, it is reasonable to assume no one has escaped feeling some degree of pandemic fatigue. We are all navigating through an unusual environment filled with daily challenges and decisions that can cause stress.
But I am confident there is a light at the end of the tunnel—our organizations will reach a better place with the help of our consistent efforts as OSH professionals. There is significant value in maintaining our focus and continuing to analyze and adjust to shifting workplace risks to implement effective safety and health protocols.
Our jobs remain critical pieces of the pandemic puzzle that ultimately will play a key role in minimizing the public health impact of COVID-19. If we allow ourselves to get discouraged or overwhelmed by pandemic fatigue, we will lose ground in this fight. As safety professionals, we’re in this together. Let’s inspire each other through our ASSP communities to continue doing what we know will best protect our workers and our communities.
Sometimes we must reset our minds by stepping back, taking a breath and making sure we are focused on the long view instead of frequently reacting to the daily noise surrounding COVID-19 in the many streams of information available to us 24/7. We must create and use reliable information filters so our actions and recommendations are based on the latest information from reputable public health experts. If we do not take the time to ensure that information has been appropriately vetted, we may jeopardize our integrity and destroy the trust our organizations have in us.
I encourage you to develop relationships with wise counsel. Listen to your workers and regularly communicate within your organization, from senior leadership to frontline employees. While none of us can predict what will happen next in this pandemic, we certainly can anticipate and prepare for various events. Continue to evaluate the risks, update your policies and keep your C-suite informed of and engaged in safety management activities so everyone is unified on the organization’s direction.
A primary way you can add significant value to workplace safety planning and preparation is to fully use your deep knowledge of your organization. Every company is different, so no single approach works across the board. Suggest strategies that are tailored to be successful at your organization, and always remain flexible knowing that modifications will likely be needed along the way.
As prolonged uncertainty has become our new normal, it is important also to recognize that many in our profession have experienced new opportunities in every industry. These difficult times have created new pathways to connect with business leaders, advocate for practices and policies that will keep workers safe, and collaborate with others across our organizations.
As safety professionals, we know to never abandon efforts to achieve our four common objectives: 1. management commitment; 2. team member involvement; 3. hazard recognition, assessment and control; and 4. education and training. They all play a vital role, especially now. Our education and experience are geared for this challenge, and the results of your dedication and leadership will be vast.
Each of you makes a difference in the lives of all workers. Your focus and dedication help them stay safe and healthy so they can return home to their loved ones each day. I know you stand with all ASSP members in helping to safely lead our organizations to the light at the end of this tunnel. I look forward to seeing you there—and thank you for all you do!