One year into the pandemic: lessons learned

Mar 15, 2021

One year into the pandemic: lessons learnedWith no clear end to the pandemic in sight, "It's a good time to collectively reflect on what has worked, some of the lessons learned, and how workplaces can stay the course," says Manisha Mistry, Senior Director, Health, Safety, Security & Environment and Change Management, CSA Group.

CSA Group is a leader in standards development and in testing, inspection and certification. With 1,800 employees worldwide, the organization has developed local and global COVID-19 strategies to navigate through a variety of situations.

These strategies positioned CSA Group to respond quickly and decisively to the pandemic. Manisha will discuss CSA Group's response during a dynamic panel discussion, "Applied Safety and Risk Management: from Emerging to Systemic - Issues One Year into the Global Pandemic," at Partners in Prevention 2021 Health & Safety Virtual Conference, April 28, 2021.

In the interim, WSPS eNews asked Manisha about CSA Group's approach to managing COVID-19 and key takeaways. The organization manages COVID-19 in the same way it does other hazards in the workplace. "We were able to respond quickly because we have the leadership commitment, and a robust management system that covers both health and safety and the environment."

CSA Group was ready from the start of the pandemic to assess risks, apply the hierarchy of controls, and take a layered approach to implementing corrective measures, which have ranged anywhere from return-to-site protocols to establishing work bubbles.

It's critical that a management system be able to pivot in response to any new hazard. "COVID-19 may be the most extreme test of your system," says Manisha. "You have to adjust your response frequently based on changing rules, you have to continually improve it, your communication has to be continuous and ongoing, and you have no option to ignore the hazard."

Employee mental health has also been top of mind for CSA Group during the pandemic. The organization already had a psychological health and safety strategy in place, but "we quickly realized that we needed to be more strategic and intentional with our resources to get employees through this period." Recognizing that employees are all facing different circumstances, the approach to supporting mental health and wellbeing is not "one size fits all." It requires continuous understanding of what employees are dealing with, keeping open lines of communication, and determining how the organization can support them and their families.

As a standards development organization, CSA Group has also been helping Canadian businesses and individuals cope throughout the pandemic. From its research report Workplaces and COVID-19: Occupational Health and Safety Considerations for Reopening & Operating During a Pandemic to CAN/CSA-Z1003-13/BNQ 9700-803/2013 - Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, CSA has made many resources available to Canadians.

Here are seven key takeaways from CSA Group's experience with COVID-19.

  • safety-focused leadership is critical to successfully navigating an organization through the pandemic
  • take a systematic approach to managing COVID-19, no differently than for any other hazard
  • apply the hierarchy of controls and layer control measures to keep employees safe
  • take a team approach to keep up with pandemic information, recognizing that information continuously evolves                 
  • be prepared to ramp your recovery plans up or down in response to local case trends
  • acknowledge the uncertainty and be open and transparent in communications
  • share health and wellness benefits, resources and information continuously

Learn more about CSA Group's experience during the panel session at Partners in Prevention 2021 Health & Safety Virtual Conference. The panel features Manisha, Elizabeth Horvath from the Mental Health Commission of Canada, Dan Black from Caravel Law, and moderator Dylan Short, The Redlands Group Inc. "The session gives delegates an opportunity to learn from CSA Group's strategies, get perspective on the real mental health impacts of the pandemic, and hear about some of the legal considerations for employers as we move forward," says Manisha.

Check out the Partners in Prevention 2021 Health & Safety Virtual Conference brochure. The virtual event's theme is "Game Changers: Planning your next move in today's workplace." Keynote speakers are Steve Foran, author and leadership expert, and Anthony McLean, mental health and inclusivity advocate.

Act on the Early Bird Rate by registering on or before March 31, 2021.

This information in this article is accurate as of its publication date.