Business Hygiene: structured approach
Suddenly, the world has lost its innocence with respect to infectious diseases. We all are now aware of the potential consequences and risks to people and businesses. It is imperative that we take measures to be prepared for the next outbreak: be it COVID-19 or another hazardous disease.
How to prepare for the next crisis? What is enough and sufficient to fulfill the moral, legal and business obligation imposed by infectious diseases?
Managing hazards is not at all new to industry. Guidelines exists to find and address hazards.The standards are drafted by experts in there fields, and thus reflect the state-of-the-art. Industries are supposed to take these and apply them to there own situation, thereby implementing effective and adequate measures, without the necessity of having deep knowledge or experience.
In our approach, we have taken into account established standards (fundamentals) in the fields of Health and Safety, Infection Prevention and Business Continuity. Companies that already work with quality systems, can regard our approach as an extension of their existing systems. The proposed approach blends very well with existing quality standards.
Our approach is based on the following fundamentals:
- Occupational Health and Safety, based on:
- ISO 45001. This covers the health and safety in the workplace. Many organization have this already in place, because in some countries it is a legal requirement. ISO45001 addresses safety risks in general, without specific guidelines for bio-hazards. However, these blend in nicely.
- Infection Prevention and Control, based on:
- WHO guidelines for Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) in hospitals. Of course, bio-hazards are the primary topic of these documents: hospitals have a long experience of dealing with infections. Only part of these guidelines are applicable to industry.
- Business Continuity, based on:
- ISO 22301. Its motto is: “Consistent planning for what to do when disaster strikes means a more effective response and a quicker recovery”. Bio-hazards have not specifically been taken into account, but this standard offers a framework for business impact.
The combination of the three above fundamentals leads to the desired approach of dealing with moral, legal and business aspects of bio-hazards. Interestingly, they share somewhat the same step-wise approach.
- Prepare the organization (START)
- Does management support this activity and are they prepared to act as sponsor?
- Are resources available (time, money)?
- Is the purpose clear to all stakeholders (legal, moral and business obligations)?
- Have roles and responsibilities been defined?
- Has management set targets for the process (purpose, scope, completion date)?
- Assess the present situation (PLAN)
- What are the present risks?
- safety for employees
- continuity of the business
- What are the present risks?
- Develop and implement improvement plan (DO)
- What are the actions to reduce the identified risks?
- Are responsibilities for actions defined?
- Assess the effectiveness (CHECK)
- Are the defined actions executed as planned?
- Are the actions effective or do they require modification?
- Are (intermediate) results reported to management?
- Sustain and improve (ADAPT)
- Are the assumptions of phase 1 (START) still valid? Modify as needed.
- Go to step 2 (PLAN)