No one was prepared for the monumental impact COVID-19 would have on the world in the beginning of 2020. Response to the pandemic has varied widely country to country and state to state. Ultimately, the most pivotal decisions regarding employee health have been left up to cities and local businesses. Employees are now leaning on employers more than ever before to make the right decisions in making sure they stay safe and employed.
While employers scramble to adjust to ever changing safety guidelines, employees have been left with more questions than answers. Am I safer at home? What is my workplace doing to keep me safe? Is my safety their top priority?
Leaders in companies are continually tasked with stricter CDC regulations and evolving challenges while at the same time being responsible for keeping company morale high and business steady. Keeping the safety of its employees as priority number one is imperative.
“It’s all about taking care of your people,” said Digital Building Components HR Manager Zulema Gutierrez.
Gutierrez outlines that, as the company HR manager, she feels a tremendous responsibility to make sure that she is well informed on the constant flow of new knowledge. “I am on the CDC website every day, and if there is anything new, I bring that knowledge to the task force.”
Digital Building created a Covid-19 task force to ensure all employees are represented and taken care of. These days, their meetings are dominated by a need to adapt to the evolving regulations that the CDC recommends.
“Our policies look a lot different now than they did four months ago.” Gutierrez said
Since February, Digital Building has had to adapt to the rapidly developing CDC guidelines. One to note: facemasks. Originally, facemasks were not recommended; however, today all employees are required to wear facemasks throughout the entirety of the workday.
In addition to the facemask policy, Digital Building has implemented a scannable QR code that all employees must scan and answer the questionnaire that follows upon entry into the Phoenix based factory.
“This allows us to track employees and ask questions related to symptoms and possible exposures,” said Gutierrez.
Upon passing the questionnaire, employees are subject to a temperature check.
Gutierrez outlined how imperative it is to stay ahead of the unavoidable issues that may arise. “If any employee fails the questionnaire, the task force responds immediately.”
Digital Building has also integrated clean stations. These stations include cleaning supplies such as hand sanitizers, disinfectant, paper towels along with extra facemasks and are placed throughout the entire factory and in every conference room.
A split break system has been constructed to limit the potential spread between employees.
Finally, Gutierrez spoke about keeping stock of cleaning supplies. “We make sure we order all supplies well in advance. Everything is stored in our designated ‘COVID closet,’” Said Gutierrez.
One policy that has stay consistent through entire COVID coaster has been social distancing. All employees are always asked and expected to remain six feet away from each other .
All these policies are set with the employees’ health as the number one concern. “We want to make sure that the entire team stays healthy and employed at the same time,” said Digital Building Components production controller Ryan Trujillo.
Digital Building Installation Manager Richard Rech explained that now he feels an increased responsibility in keeping up to date with the varying state guidelines. “The most dynamic part of this whole thing is being flexible to guidelines that are being updated by the hour in some places.”
At the end of the day, the main focus for any company should be the safety its employees. “The biggest thing for us has been making sure that the employees know that they are safe here, that they want to be here,” said Trujillo.
Utilizing prefabrication, Digital Building Components is able to mitigate typical safety concerns and ultimately able to focus more energy on ensuring employees are protected at work.
“Safety has always been at the forefront of Digital Building Components,” said Rech. “We can control most of the Coronavirus risk using prefabrication so that results in a decrease in the possibility of spread at the job site level.”
Being able to train people in a familiar environment where they work every day and providing them with all the tools they need has proven to be a massive advantage in Digital Building’s efforts to stay ahead of the curve.
“We have been able to keep the Coronavirus from slowing down production,” said Trujillo.
As fabrication occurs in a factory setting, Digital Building has a consistent team that works in the same facility every day, so the COVID response team has been able to implement changes without many hiccups. Trujillo commented that having employees at the same job site day after day has been huge in allowing the team to add or subtract polices without having a huge impact on everyone’s lives.
In turn, prefabrication methods cut down the needed trades, subtracting from the overall number of workers on job sites. Overall, “awareness and efforts can be focused more on COVID safety because you are only dealing with six workers as opposed to 12,” said Rech.
Furthermore, Trujillo explained that having employees working in a factory environment allows employees to familiarize themselves with their environment making it easier to make changes. “At the job site level, you have different trades and subcontractors showing up. Dealing with a huge construction company, you aren’t always working with the same team,” said Trujillo.
Digital Building has worked diligently in its first five years to nail down its production processes. Each station is broken into teams and each team member is aware of their responsibilities. This relieves a lot of the worry that employees may be contacting and unknowingly spreading the virus.
Now more than ever, prefabrication methods provide an extra layer of comfort and safety to employees while at the same time driving down fabrication and overall costs. Today, Digital Building remains dedicated to innovating the construction industry while coexisting in a COVID-19 ruled environment.