Posted: Oct. 12, 2020
InUnison Supports the Canadian Hospitality Industry with “OpenSafe”, a Health and Safety Platform to Manage COVID-19 ahead of Cold and Flu Season
To help Canada’s foodservice, lodging, and tourism-related businesses manage strict COVID-19 procedures ahead of the imminent cold and flu season, InUnison Technologies Corporation has developed OpenSafe, a cloud-based, COVID-19 health and safety management platform.
OpenSafe is a modification of InUnison’s existing cloud-based Occupational Health and Safety Platform, which has already proven to help organizations in the manufacturing, construction, and resource-based sectors comply with industry association and Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) regulations.
Already successfully launched in May 2020 to help businesses throughout Alberta’s hospitality industry reopen in a safe and sustainable manner, industry associations and regulatory bodies are now encouraging businesses across Canada to adopt InUnison’s OpenSafe platform before the cold and flu season approaches.
“As health and safety compliance experts, we developed OpenSafe in conjunction with industry associations, based on guidance we received from the Federal and Provincial Health Authorities,” reports Jeff Weaver, President and Chief Executive Officer of InUnison. “We’re pleased to leverage the robust InUnison platform for the sole purpose of meeting the needs of foodservice, lodging, and tourism-related businesses, as they continue to manage COVID-19 measures and the new challenges they face with the upcoming cold and flu season.”
Developed in partnership with the Alberta Hospitality Association (AHA), the Alberta Small Brewers Association (ASBA), and the Calgary Hotel Association (CHA), leaders from all three industry associations reflect on the challenges that hospitality businesses are faced with, along with their experiences using OpenSafe as a proven solution in recent months.
“When the pandemic was first declared in March, the hospitality industry was among the first and the hardest hit of all sectors across Canada,” says Sol Zia, Executive Director of CHA.
“Not only were businesses in the hospitality industry impacted by a prolonged shutdown, when these businesses began to reopen in May and June, they had to adapt to enhanced staffing needs with additional training, as well as adhere to strict requirements for sanitizing and physical distancing limitations,” states Blair Berdusco, Executive Director of ASBA.
“OpenSafe was critical in helping foodservice, lodging, and tourism-related businesses manage their COVID-19 procedures so they could reopen quickly and safely,” says Brett Ireland, who sits on the Board of Directors of both AHA and ASBA.
Just as many Canadian businesses in the hospitality industry were beginning to recover as travel restrictions loosened and active COVID-19 cases stabilized throughout the summer months, many health and safety experts are predicting another setback to the foodservice and lodging industries as we transition into fall. “Particularly as the weather cools down in the fall and winter months, the sustainability of Canada’s hospitality industry will face an entirely new set of challenges,” states Sol Zia.
One of the biggest challenges will be the fact that the symptoms for the common cold or flu – cough, fever, sore throat, nausea, runny nose, fatigue – are similar to the symptoms that businesses have already been screening for to detect potential COVID-19 outbreaks. “Within the hospitality industry, employers have no choice but to treat any common cold or flu symptom seriously, and force any symptomatic staff members to self-isolate for at least 10 days,” continues Sol Zia.
“Not only does this put additional strain on management and the rest of the staff to immediately accommodate for these lost work-hours, it also increases the mental stress many hospitality workers have been coping with, who already feel vulnerable and anxious about an outbreak occurring in their workplace,” Sol Zia confirms.
Blair Berdusco expands on some of the other challenges businesses in the hospitality industry will have to adapt to in the upcoming fall months. “With students going back to school and their parents going back to work, it’s inevitable that they’re going to come into contact with more people than they were during the summer.”
“As cohorts begin to grow, so must everyone’s commitment to enhanced health and safety measures,” Blair Berdusco continues. “Especially for businesses within the hospitality industry – it’s critical for management and staff to remain diligent, ensuring their workplaces are thoroughly and routinely sanitized, to prevent any outbreak from occurring or spreading to coworkers and customers.”
Within the OpenSafe platform, businesses across the hospitality industry can perform a full range of health and safety management processes to comply with strict COVID-19 guidelines. These processes include self-screening assessment forms, sanitizing schedules, as well as online checklists to ensure personal protective equipment (PPE) and hygiene materials are fully stocked and set up for use throughout the workplace.
“We’ve simplified the management and compliance of COVID-19 safety practices, making it easier for hospitality businesses to implement processes and collect data,” says Graeme Math, Vice President of Product at InUnison.
“Pre-built forms and checklists make it quick and easy for management and employees to use, which earns the confidence of all staff members as they begin to normalize the safety procedures and compliance guidelines,” Graeme Math continues. “And because it’s built on the cloud, OpenSafe is accessible to all workers anywhere at any time, from a laptop, tablet, or mobile phone.”
In addition to the simplified, cloud-based technology, which allows for easy installation on any device, OpenSafe is also intentionally designed for a quick onboarding process with its intuitive and user-friendly functionality.
“All staff members will be able to complete a self-assessment form to confirm they are symptomatic-free before they enter the workplace,” confirms Jeff Weaver, who brings over 30 years of experience in implementing successful health and safety management systems. “Management will be able to schedule set times to inspect their workplace and ensure all safety measures – hand sanitizer stations, masks, gloves – are in stock and accessible, and cleaning staff will be able to document all the times throughout the day that they sanitize the high-traffic areas.”
“Since we reopened our businesses, our focus has always been to create a safe and transparent work environment for all employees,” says Brett Ireland, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Bearhill Brewing, which has operations across Alberta in Calgary, Jasper, Banff, and Edmonton.
Adam Snelling, who works with Brett Ireland as Operations Manager for all Bearhill Brewing businesses, and as the General Manager for Last Best Brewing & Distilling in Calgary, Alberta, elaborates on how important it is to focus on employee health and safety in the hospitality industry. “It’s imperative that employees feel safe and respected at work, so they can extend that same trusting atmosphere to their customers during this emotionally-charged time.”
“With OpenSafe, InUnison gave us a platform our staff can use to perform the proper COVID-19 pre-screening tests before they enter the workplace to begin their shift,” Adam Snelling continues. “OpenSafe also has all the official, up-to-date information about COVID-19 protocol, along with the required forms that come directly from our government health authorities.”
Adam Snelling details how the employee pre-screening forms work on the OpenSafe platform, and what happens in the event of a symptomatic screening. “If one of these pre-screening tests confirms that an employee is feeling unwell, OpenSafe will automatically notify our leadership team so we can immediately advise that employee on the required steps and timeline before they can safely return to work. This standardized process takes the guesswork out of how businesses determine what the unsafe symptoms are and how to responsibly manage them.”
“We’ve had Alberta Health Services inspect our businesses to verify that we were compliant with current COVID-19 health and safety procedures,” states Adam Snelling. “They are always pleased with how well-organized and structured our health and safety processes are, and this is due in large part to our commitment to using and following the OpenSafe platform.”
Sol Zia comments on how the InUnison OpenSafe platform has positively affected the way employees approach health and safety. “The most notable, long-term benefit our hospitality business members have recognized since they began using OpenSafe when they reopened in spring and summer, is the improved safety culture it has instilled in all employees. Employees feel good about coming into work, because they see how seriously management is taking their safety and wellbeing with all the preventative measures they’re taking.”
Brett Ireland, who implemented InUnison’s OpenSafe system in all four of his business operations when they reopened in May, agrees. “OpenSafe has allowed us to retain our top employees, as well as attract new employees who share our same values of health and safety.”
“And just as importantly, our customers have noticed the commitment to safety our staff have put in place and maintained,” concludes Adam Snelling. “It’s encouraging to see the confidence our customers have in our health and safety processes; we’ve been able to grow a loyal, repeat customer base because of it.”
As with any occupational health and safety management procedure, the goals for hospitality businesses using OpenSafe are to increase due diligence, build compliant safety habits based on preventative measures, instill confidence and trust in their workforce, and have detailed documentation readily available in the event of an on-site regulatory audit.
“Although the upcoming cold and flu season is concerning, there is a strong collection of optimism shared by businesses throughout the hospitality industry,” explains Blair Berdusco. “Standardized COVID-19 safety procedures have become so widely accepted; it’s now normalized behaviour. People are accustomed to physical distancing, wearing masks, washing their hands, sanitizing high-touch surfaces – and this doesn’t just apply to hospitality staff members, but customers have developed these habits, too.”
“Customers are also recognizing what a safe establishment looks like,” confirms Blair Berdusco. “Customers have developed higher standards and expectations of how businesses operate their health and safety protocols. What we are seeing across the hospitality industry is that customers are choosing to support the businesses that prioritize health and safety.”
Jeff Weaver agrees that there is good reason to be optimistic as we enter the fall and winter months. “We’re fortunate to learn from countries in the southern hemisphere that have recently completed their cold and flu season – such as Australia – who have recorded their lowest number of flu cases in recent history. This is attributed to physical distancing and other infection control measures, such as mask wearing and hand sanitizing, which were introduced to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
“We’re confident that with continued due diligence, and by following the simple, consistent, and repeatable controlled measures we have built into our OpenSafe platform, that businesses across the hospitality industry will have the tools to manage compliance and reduce the likelihood of a potential second wave of a COVID-19 outbreak, that many health experts are predicting we could experience throughout the cold and flu season.”
To learn more about how the InUnison OpenSafe COVID-19 health and safety management platform can be used to support businesses in the foodservice, lodging, and tourism-related sectors across Canada, visit InUnison.io/covid-19/ to get started in building a safer hospitality workplace environment.
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