Staying Safe In A COVID-19 World
Protecting employees and customers from COVID-19 is daunting. How do we keep our staff safe, customers happy and our business up and running?
The truth is, no one knows how COVID has impacted the cannabis industry. We are all slowly watching this play out without knowing where it’s headed.
In the meantime, customers are returning and dispensaries remain open. Businesses are building cannabis laboratories again. Plants are growing on cannabis and hemp farms and trimmers are caring for them.
Despite all that has changed, it’s getting back to business as usual in many places.
While we all adapt to the “new normal” of working during a pandemic, there are things you can do to mitigate the risk of opening and operating your business during these trying times.
Start with these cannabis safety practices prioritizing the health and safety of your staff, customers and business operations.
Step 1: Minimize transmission
The idea of contracting the virus while at work can be scary for employees and a major threat to your business operations. Stop the spread of COVID-19 before it starts by minimizing opportunities for transmission with these techniques.
Conduct a hazard assessment.
The CDC suggests conducting a hazard assessment before you create a COVID-19 safety plan for your business. This helps to determine specifics, such as if workers need full Personal Protective Equipment or if cloth face masks will do.
Clean more than you ever have, and then clean again.
While it’s always been important, a thorough and repetitive cleaning routine is now a non-negotiable cannabis safety practice. Customers expect it and employees rely on it. Choose from the EPA’s list of approved disinfectants for use against COVID-19 to clean all facilities as frequently as possible.
Test as needed and use contact tracing.
This is where that hazard assessment becomes important. Not every business needs regular testing. If you do, clearly communicate this with your staff as well as availability and protocol for COVID-19 testing. If an outbreak does occur, utilize contact tracing techniques to find the source and isolate it before it spreads.
Stagger employee shifts.
Cannabis businesses don’t have to limit themselves to a standard Monday through Friday 9 – 5 workweek. In fact, that would be impossible for many. This flexibility is handy for staggering employee shifts, where overnights and “off-hours” are possible. The theory behind this is simple: fewer people in the building means less risk of exposure and chance of contracting COVID-19.
Encourage social distancing and wearing masks indoors.
Use social distancing to keep employees and customers away from one another. Space trimmers 6 ft. apart while they’re working, ask customers to wait outside for orders at dispensaries and require everyone (regardless of position or task) to wear masks inside.
Step 2: Limit Contact Among Employees & The Public
Person to person connection is important for building client relationships and staff bonding in any business. But it’s now become a health and safety hazard. Public facing cannabis businesses will still need to interact with their customers to some degree, but by limiting it as much as possible, you can reduce the risk. Try:
- Moving all non-essential meetings and check-ins to a digital platform.
- Using contactless delivery both when shipping and receiving products.
- Use digital and contactless forms of payment for customers.
- Canceling in-person facility tours and creating a virtual video tour
Step 3: Listen To Customer’s Fears & Adjust
If you’re operating a business, it goes without saying that you need to build strong relationships with customers so you can better cater to their needs. With COVID-19, this is more important than ever.
People are scared right now. They’re afraid to go to the supermarket, to see loved ones and spend excess income. This is not a time to be sales-y. Instead, use this downtime to re-connect with your client base and find out what they need from you. If you’re running a medical dispensary, maybe you can find ways to deliver to higher-risk customers. Doctors are recommending that people limit smoking and vaping right now, so maybe this is an opportunity to suggest edibles or topical products.
Invest the time to thoughtfully establish a connection with your customer base and then, if possible, adjust your business model to meet them where they are.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Change
When you’ve managed a successful business, it’s tempting to pick up where you left off. To continue plowing forward in the ways you always have. But COVID-19 changed how we work overnight, and no one knows when (or if) things will go back to the way they were. If you are able, consider taking a step back from “business as usual” and reconfiguring your cannabis business to incorporate these safety practices.
Keep your employees and customers safe and you will be able to keep your business open and growing.