Moving Forward after COVID: Four Things to Proactively Stay Safe Moving Forward

Four Things to Proactively Stay Safe Moving Forward

Herb Santos, Director of Safety


When safety engineers like me look at a hazard, we start by isolating it, understanding it, then mitigating it. With the example of a house fire, an engineer would recommend you isolate (move people away), do your reconnaissance (identify what kind of fire it is), then use that intelligence to make strategic decisions (determine what type of PPE should be worn & put it out).

Looking back at the beginning of the pandemic, we didn’t isolate, understand and mitigate the virus. So much of what we have done is react.  Now that we understand more about COVID, it’s our time to mitigate that risk moving forward. There are proactive things that we can all do to minimize our risk.  Here are four things that everyone can do to stay safe moving forward.


  • Take Personal Responsibility for Your Health

Especially in the beginning of the pandemic, so little was known about the spread of COVID. Now that we understand more, we know that having an immune system in tip-top shape is an important way to fight off viruses like COVID.

One important thing you can do in the fight against the Coronavirus is take personal responsibility for your health and wellbeing. Maximizing your health gives you the best chance to fight off illness. 


There are things you can do to increase your overall health: reducing consumption of alcohol, reducing stress, eating well-balanced meals, improving your mental health and taking vitamins. By taking personal responsibility for your health, you move from being reactive to proactive in the fight against COVID and other illnesses. 


Did you know we spend 90% of our time indoors? Another action you can take to stay healthy is to properly ventilate the air around you to minimize risk. If you eat at a restaurant, choose to sit outdoors on the patio. When driving in a vehicle with someone, open the windows and turn on the air conditioning system. By venting, air and contaminants are allowed to pass out and around you. 


By taking personal responsibility for your own health, you boost your body’s defenses in the case of exposure to illness.


  • Continue Wearing a Mask & Social Distancing

One of the bright spots in this pandemic is heightened awareness about germs and potential contaminants.  


I know it’s been a very long year, and everyone is ready for the pandemic to be over. However it will take all of us continuing to be vigilant and fight this virus until the end. Social distancing is going to be key moving forward. We have become used to standing in grocery store lines and sitting in meetings six feet apart. It is important to continue to do this to stop the spread. 


I don’t know if masks will ever go away, because now it has become a social norm. It’s almost like a binky, a safety blanket, for some people. I don’t see masks going away any time soon.


It’s always a good idea to practice good hand hygiene. Continue washing your hands for at least 20 seconds under hot, running water and use soap. Hand washing is preferable to hand sanitizer, which eliminates bad germs, but also kills good germs as well. 


Continue the practices that you have been maintaining all along: remain cognizant of your space from others, wear your mask, and wash your hands.


  • Do Your Research

During the time of COVID, a great amount of technical information has been presented, which can often be confusing. It has caused us to dig in and do our own research. I encourage everyone to research and make decisions rationally. Look at articles and follow measures that are scientifically proven. It’s critical to make rational, not emotional, decisions. 


Early in the pandemic, our CEO Dave Osburn encouraged me to spend time researching the best ways to keep our people safe. It is so important to spend time doing quality research from credible sources. I’m fortunate to have access because of my role to the National Library of Medicine to research further. Each week, after taking time to research credible sources, I sent out a message to all Osburn employees with updates on COVID. I try to be a reliable resource to those around me.


When I’m in the car, I like to listen to podcasts. A few months ago, I listened to a podcast by Dr. Rhonda Patrick, a biologist who noted the relationship of COVID and vitamin D deficiency. By listening to her idea that an increase in vitamin D helps prevent COVID, I started to research that further. I now advise employees in those weekly emails to take supplements – especially vitamin D3 –  to stay healthy. 


Learn as much as you can. As time has progressed, new information was discovered. By taking time to research credible sources, we manage through the knows and the unknowns. 


  • Help Each Other 

Osburn is very family-oriented. We think about our employees as family. We want to establish a sense of community. Therefore, we’ve extended our COVID resources to our vendors and partners. We partner with labs in areas where we do business. When a spouse’s family member suspects they may have been exposed to the virus, we allowed them to come to our job sites to get tested. We extend those resources to our guests, vendors and family members. We believe in extending our resources for the greater good. 


There are a lot of things we can do to help each other. Supporting local businesses and restaurants by purchasing gift cards or getting takeout is an important way to keep our local economy running. Mental health is certainly a challenge in today’s isolated world, so calling to check in on neighbors, friends and family members can boost spirits. Just staying home is a choice that can be life-giving as well. 


It will take all of us to get to the end of the pandemic. I encourage everyone to take personal responsibility for their health by making good choices around food and alcohol. It is important to take care of your whole self, including your mental health. Continue wearing masks and remaining socially distant: these actions will go a long way in helping stop the spread of COVID. Research credible sources for information and practice rational decision making. Finally, help each other.