Over one year ago, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.
We have all been touched by it in some way, whether it be your job, an ill family member, a struggling business, and for most, the uncertainty of when the pandemic would end and what position we would all be in when it does.
At the beginning of the pandemic, workplace safety was more important than ever before. As a result, many workplaces closed their doors to prevent the spread of the deadly disease and the business slowing down.
Out of an abundance of precautions, IST decided to halt its operations to get past the growing number of positive cases in Ontario and ensure that our workers stayed safe.
This was a scary time for us because we did not know what the future would hold; when would we be operational again? What impact would IST face? When would all staff be back to work? How can we support our staff’s mental health and ensure our ‘team’ mentality stays intact, during closure?
These were only some of the questions going through our minds.
Throughout the length of IST’s operational halt near the beginning of 2020, we began exploring new ways to continue to assist our clients while keeping them and our staff safe; this was when distance learning began.
Although not always ideal, we decided it was possible to teach most of our current training programs and provide many consulting functions in a virtual setting. A considerable advantage to this was that we could provide clients with the same pre-pandemic level of service and keep our clients and staff safe at the same time!
In May of 2020, Industrial Safety Trainers launched its first group of training programs in the distance learning format using virtual platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
To our surprise, the programs took off right from the get-go. Many businesses understood that during the pandemic, the Occupational Health and Safety Act requirements were still applicable and in some instances were enhanced; safety in the workplace was needed more than ever!
In June 2020, Industrial Safety Trainers was approved by the Chief Prevention Office to deliver the Joint Health and Safety Committee certification programs through the distance learning platform, which was a game-changer.
Due to the restrictions in place for indoor gatherings, it was challenging to do many of these programs in person. The number of participants was restricted to distancing limitations of 2 meters.
Still, in the virtual platform, this was not an issue.
As we progressed through the summer of 2020, we began teaching distance learning sessions nearly every day, and we were able to bring all of our staff back to work, which was a great feeling for everyone at IST!
The business had started to pick up, and we started to realize the lasting effect that the pandemic was going to have on our workplace and many others.
So, what have we learned from this pandemic as individuals and as a business? Well, quite a bit, to be honest.
Time with family and friends is precious
As people, we are naturally social to a certain extent.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that we are out partying with others all the time, but many of us like to take time to visit family members or friends.
The pandemic put a halt to much of this by forcing the need to stay at home and only come into close contact with those we live with.
I will say that if this were the case for a month or two, it might not be too difficult for many to do, but for over a year? Well, that is tough. At times I find myself wishing that I could visit my family or my friends like I used to and wondering when it will return to normal.
It seems that this pandemic has brought something to light for many of us as it certainly has for me; we take having the ability to visit and spend time with others for granted.
Once the pandemic is over, and we can spend time with others, make sure that you cherish it because you never know how long it will last.
Protect yourself and others
This pandemic has made many of us realize how easy it is to be subjected to illness and disease and how susceptible we are to it. Some of us can tolerate illness or disease more than others; some have other ailments that may increase the severity of what we contract.
It is essential that we all strive to protect ourselves, but also to protect others.
The pandemic has come with a lot of social isolation. What can come with social isolation is mental health concerns.
If you have someone that is experiencing a lack of socialization, reach out to them. Talk to them and listen to what they have to say.
This is important to do during the time we’re in now and once the pandemic is over. Many will never ask for an ear, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t need it.
Pay close attention to the bottom line
Many Canadians associate a higher wage with the ability to spend more money on things like vehicles, toys, hobbies, and the list goes on, but is that always a good idea?
This pandemic has shown how quickly a business can take a significant financial hit and affect a worker’s salary. We realize very quickly how we take the ability to put food on the table and have heat and electricity in our homes for granted.
Many Canadians have been dealt a challenging set of cards this past year as a result.
It is essential to always plan for the worst and hope for the best.
Optimism and positivity are critical
If we maintain the attitude that nothing will ever get better, no one is helping, and there is no end in sight, our minds will convince our bodies of this, and we will feel the negative impacts, which can ultimately lead to mental and physical health issues.
If we do our best to stay optimistic and positive, having the attitude that things will get better, that I can help others get through this, and light at the end of the tunnel, we will be in a better mental and physical state.
I’m sure you have learned other things throughout this pandemic beyond the above.
Remember that we will get through this pandemic, and when we do, we need to make sure we take a page from its book and use it to avoid another in the future. Use this past year to help you make better decisions and priorities going forward, and most importantly, nurture your relationships with others.
Consultant, Industrial Safety Trainers Inc.
If you have any lessons learned from this pandemic, please feel free to share them with me at [email protected]