DENVER —May 12, 2020 — As COVID-19 swept across Colorado, businesses quickly modified their operations — sometimes in days — to adjust to lockdown orders, new social distancing guidelines and widespread uncertainty. Colorado’s largest workers’ compensation insurer, Pinnacol Assurance, is advising employers that they should be vigilant about known as well as new safety hazards as operational modifications in response to COVID-19 continue. To help with this, Pinnacol began offering virtual safety visits to its customers and one free virtual safety consultation to any business in Colorado, regardless of insurer.
“We’ve seen businesses across Colorado use their ingenuity to adjust to this crisis, and we know they want to continue to do everything possible to keep employees safe,” says Josh Kreger, Pinnacol’s director of safety innovation and strategy.
“With these adjustments come new roles and processes that require situational awareness, training and proper equipment. As Colorado businesses pivot to operate in the face of COVID-19, they must avoid taking their eyes off the known hazards that are specific to their industries. It’s tempting to do so considering the economic pressure everyone is experiencing.”
Kreger continued, “We want businesses to know that — regardless of insurer — we exist to keep Colorado’s workers safe, and we hope any business that needs support right now is taking full advantage of the largest and most innovative safety team in the state.”
Examples of operational adjustments that require a workplace safety assessment are:
New delivery drivers. Motor vehicle accidents are a major cause of work-related injuries and fatalities. With many businesses newly offering delivery, drivers require special training, performance expectations and equipment checks to keep the employee safe on the road and the employer safe from liability.
New ways of working. While face coverings help slow the spread of infection, restaurant workers, for example, may be exposed to a new hazard if they wear the wrong material or wear their mask improperly over an open flame. Parking lots converted to pickup or dining locations could also pose unique risks to workers and customers.
Long-term remote workers. As many businesses are following Governor Polis’ guidance to maximize remote work, many employees are finding themselves working from home for an extended or indefinite period. Many were sent home with just a laptop. Long-term remote work requires appropriate equipment and adjustment to avoid the common musculoskeletal injuries that make up a large proportion of workers’ comp injuries for office workers. Kreger warns that businesses that aren’t already managing this risk could find out about injuries sustained by employees after the damage has already been done.
Pinnacol’s Kreger stresses that while Colorado businesses should follow Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment guidance regarding COVID-19, they must maintain focus on the hazards that existed at their place of work before the pandemic. “Despite the new challenges COVID-19 presents, businesses must not lose track of the multitude of other hazards that can — and will — threaten your business and your people.”
Pinnacol’s safety innovation and strategy team knows Colorado businesses better than anyone else. They work with businesses across the state every day to identify and mitigate hazards, connect them with resources, and provide advice at no cost.