Presentation outlines pandemic planning for employers

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Jennifer Cleerdin

Employers can take steps to not only avoid the spread of coronavirus, but also prepare for what to do in the event an employee tests positive for COVID-19.

“Really, this boils down to planning and communication,” said Jennifer Cleerdin, vice president of quality and compliance at Capco, a Grand Junction-based defense contractor.

Leading an online presentation hosted by the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, Cleerdin discussed what Capco has done in the midst of the pandemic. She covered physical as well as administrative procedures.

It takes planning to avoid transmission and determine how to respond. Then it’s a matter of communicating what’s happening and executing plans, she said. “It’s also important to stress the why.”

Capco employs nearly 400 people at facilities manufacturing bomb fin assemblies, impulse cartridges, machine gun tripods and other products.

The company checks the temperatures of employees as they come to work and doesn’t allow anyone with COVID symptoms into facilities, Cleerdin said.

Employees wear face coverings and practice social distancing, she said. Markings on the floor help maintain distancing. Plastic dividers have been erected and cleaning and disinfection routines put in place.

In addition, Capco has staggered shifts and stages virtual meetings whenever possible to limit physical interactions.

A COVID response team was formed to develop plans, coordinate their implementation and maintain communications, Cleerdin said.

Plans are updated to address changing conditions and different issues. Revisions are logged to create a record.

Flowcharts have been helpful, she said, in developing a standard approach to respond to different situations and detail in a simple and clear way the steps to follow. Separate charts have been created to respond to what happens if an employee reports symptoms, tests positive or is ready to return to work following a quarantine.

Flowcharts should be available as digital files as well as documents, Cleerdin said. Employees should be trained on how to use them.

Communication remains important as well in responding to a pandemic, she said, to not only inform employees about various requirements, but also address rumors, acknowledge the emotions employees experience and reinforce teamwork. Capco established a telephone hotline to answer questions.

The more communication the better, she said, although it should come from one source to ensure consistency.