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Being “job ready” is critical for safety as employees return to on-site work

Returning to normal at work may still have some challenges

As the province continues to dial back pandemic restrictions and a return to normalcy is imminent, more workers will be expected to return to on-site work. After an extended period of being away from the traditional workplace, “re-adapting will be necessary”, says Brian Curtis, Branch Manager of Vallen Canada’s Sudbury branch. Vallen is an industry-leading industrial and safety supplies distributor that helps businesses find what they need for their teams to keep working.

Being back on a plant site, there’s a potential for something to happen. To prevent this, managers should ensure their employees are properly prepared both physically and mentally for the shift back to a regular workplace. Companies and their employees need to be “job ready.” 

Be prepared for the “full-blown workplace.”

“Make sure your team is ready to go back to where they’re surrounded by a lot of people,” says Curtis, “Lots have worked from home and aren’t used to being in a full-blown workspace.” Many employees have had limited access to their traditional roles for over two years, sometimes working in hybrid environments with groups rotating in and out. 

“When you go to work five days a week or on a two-week shift, job roles and processes are natural and regular, but now it’s brand new again,” says Curtis, emphasizing the importance of retraining and communication such as toolbox talks, “so you're ready when you hit the ground.”

Physical preparedness is necessary to prevent burnout.

Employees who have been working from home for extended periods may not be prepared physically or mentally for the scope of the work that they were comfortable with before. Whether they’re in an office or on the plant floor, taking more frequent breaks to stretch and refresh is important. 

“Once in the office, people will be working in longer stretches and will need little stops to take a wellness break during the day,” says Curtis who also mentions “having enough sleep to be alert enough is also key.” Managers should ensure their teams understand the tasks assigned to them and be open to asking questions in advance of attempting the job. 

“When you’re not ready for the job, people take risks,” says Curtis

Employees need to show up ready to work with the right tools and PPE provided to them. “Supervisors and shift foreman will have full crews coming back to work and need to have ordered the right stuff so it’s there when employees come back,” says Curtis. “That can be a challenge right now. Our supply chains have been impacted and still are. Items people thought were readily available before might take a bit longer to get a hold of so give yourself extra time.”

Vallen is here to help

“Everyone in the Sudbury market was impacted one way or another. The job site changed via COVID and access to job sites has been limited. We have to go through our steps as a channel partner to make sure we are ready and every site has its own rules on access and what PPE they might need. 

With close to 60 years of combined experience at Vallen, Curtis and his customer service team in Sudbury are dedicated to making a local impact. “Our people are well versed with what goes on in Sudbury and have great relationships with the customers,” says Curtis. 

“We live here and we know our customers. We know what they do and we’re the experts they rely on. It’s not the same as dropping an order in to Amazon. When it comes to safety products you need the people who know the products. Having the experience available to you means you get the right product in your hands.”