Safety & Health

Emergency Response

Guidance on Safe Actions for Employee Returns (SAFER) Post Quarantine

Grainger Editorial Staff

The National Safety Council (NSC) has released the SAFER Framework, which centralizes guidance for employers and workers who are returning to facilities after shelter-in-place orders as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The framework tackles six pertinent areas as they relate to office, closed industrial, open industrial and public environments. Since certain areas are inherently more challenging than others, the NSC notes that the SAFER Framework is a work in progress. As a result, some elements of the framework contain more information than others.

The SAFER Framework

Here are a few key recommendations for each topic in the framework to help facilities develop decisive action plans in response to the pandemic.

1. Physical

  • Ensure your facility and its equipment have been fully sanitized before employees return to work.
  • Increase the frequency and scope of cleaning within the facility.
  • Ascertain your facility's maximum capacity to allow for appropriate social distancing.

2. Medical Health

  • Screen employees via self-assessments and temperature checks before they enter the facility.
  • Encourage good hygiene, such as frequent hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer.
  • Urge employees to stay home if they feel unwell and have them communicate their situation to a manager as soon as possible.

3. Stress, Emotional and Mental Health

  • Support employees who may be experiencing stress or anxiety as they return to the workplace.
  • Connect employees to mental health resources, either through the company's employee assistance program or via health insurance plans.
  • Share national support hotlines.

4. Employment, Legal and Human Resources

  • Encourage open feedback on new protocols and workspaces that have been affected.
  • Develop an internal website or update an existing one to include COVID-related information.

5. Communications

  • Have frequent and open communications to reduce any employee concerns associated with returning to work.
  • Explain your approach to reopening, including information about any phased strategy.
  • Discuss reasons for creating new roles or positions to help the organization respond to changes prompted by the virus.

6. External Factors

  • Explain relevant government policies and guidelines, and how the company is adhering to local, state and federal requirements.
  • Monitor community risk, specifically infection rates and their impact on your company's efforts to mitigate the effects of the virus in facilities located in that community.
  • Create a guide for a phased response as COVID-19 evolves so you can adapt and scale your operations with as little impact on employees as possible.

Moving Forward

Post-quarantine, employers need guidance on how to ensure the safety and security of their employees throughout this changing period. See the complete SAFER Framework for a list of recommendations that can help remove much of the legwork for employers when it comes time to gathering guidance and best practices.

Find more resources and products to help you through the recovery phase and beyond.


The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.

Featured Resources

More Safety & Health KnowHow



Get more great content like this sent to your inbox.