By: Jason Jantzi, Risk Management Consultant - Public Safety
It’s been a while since I wrote anything to our members; after more than a year of conformity to complicated, and at times uncomfortable, COVID-19 guidance and rules, many of us are mentally drained. Oregon’s special district boards and managers are diligently taking steps to show their staff kindness and understanding. Still, personal fatigue with these mandatory protective measures doesn’t change the guidelines, regulations, or the potential for serious risks to us and others.
Letting our guard down, even when the intent is to assist with employees’ comfort and fatigue, can create real health risks for patrons and staff, as well as liability and compliance risks for the district. Although CDC guidelines have recently changed on topics of physical distancing and face cover wearing, Oregon OSHA has rules in place that apply to all special district members. Often these CDC guidance documents allow these alterations in social settings but not in the workplace, especially for healthcare activities and settings.
With this pandemic fatigue in mind, I have adapted this list of seven concepts from an EMS provider article on combating “PPE Fatigue”. (Taigman, 2021) Use these ideas within your district and its mission to set your staff up for success.
I will make one modification to the author’s list; I believe that concept number two should become the first point. As leaders of your districts, you set the example in both positive and negative ways. People look to you for how the expectations will be adhered to and you must overcome this desire to loosen up.
- Manage your overall fatigue. Find ways to enhance your overall wellness. Improving your health has implications for this and many other diseases.
- Commit to being the example-setter, not the group-follower. Follow your expectations for everyone else. Never be the negative workplace example.
- Keep your risk assessments simple. Use the KISS acronym (keep it simple) when thinking of ways to protect people from the virus. Simple things get done.
- Get yourself a “battle buddy” and make sure no one on your team is without one. Share the load with someone and keep each other mentally positive. If you see unusual signs of fatigue for them, assist them in finding mental health resources. If they express a desire and a plan to harm themselves or someone else, call 911 immediately.
- Avoid shaming people into PPE compliance. Positive affirmation goes farther than negative encounters. “Thanks for taking time to care for our staff by wearing your mask” sounds better than, “Why aren’t you doing what you’re told?”
- Many, if not most of us, like to think of our work colleagues as family. Keep in mind, that’s not the same as your COVID-19-safe family pod.
- Use less garlic in your cooking. It will make mask use more pleasant.
If you have any questions or need support, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-285-5461.
Taigman, M. (2021, February 4). 'We’ve become numb:' Combatting PPE fatigue. Retrieved from EMS1: https://www.ems1.com/health-and-wellness/articles/weve-become-numb-combatting-ppe-fatigue-0J5oYAqcaAqdJIrf/