With the recent Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many FBOs have begun examining the policies and procedures they have in place surrounding health and sanitation.
There are many informational resources available that provide solid information on preparing for and responding to these concerns; however, piecing the information together and writing a procedure can be a challenge.
While these considerations are useful for preparing and handing the COVID-19 crisis, they can apply to any health emergency.
We have a few recommendations on where to get started…
For your FBO Operations Manual / Procedures
The first step is to assess any policies and procedures you already have in place. Oftentimes, your health and sanitation procedures will have much of what you are looking for, but some adjustments may be necessary.
After gathering what you have, a good next step is to research industry guidance from reputable sources to see if there are any gaps in your procedures or additional policies to include. Some good resources are:
- The United States’ Center for Disease Control (CDC). In addition to their general website, the CDC has published resources specific to facility disinfection and sterilization, as well as cleaning and disinfecting aircraft.
- The World Health Organization (WHO), which has published general disinfection and sanitation guidance that can be utilized for coronavirus or other infectious illnesses.
- The National Air Transportation Association (NATA). NATA has a dedicated COVID-19 page that is regularly updated with guidance, and they have also published a document titled “COVID-19: Guidance for FBOs and Ground Handlers” which contains useful operational guidance and policies.
In addition to these resources, consulting with airport management may yield specific considerations unique to your airport and local area.
Some key topics we have seen operators focusing on are:
- Personal hygiene, particularly the recommendation to wash hands regularly for at least 20 seconds using soap and water. If available, hand sanitizers are also recommended. Notices and leaflets may be utilized to relay this information to personnel, passengers, and visitors.
- Encouraging “social distancing” by standing at least 6 feet / 2 meters away from others, whenever possible.
- Setting an increased sanitation schedule.
- Encouraging personnel who have regular contact with coworkers, passengers, or shared equipment to wear gloves.
- Reinforcing that personnel that feel ill should remain at home.
Additionally, this may be a good time to check your facility First Aid Kits to make sure supplies are appropriate to the health situation.
- Include a policy to check your facility First Aid Kits to make sure equipment and medications have not expired.
- Outline policies for acquiring additional medical support equipment (universal precaution kits, medical face masks, hand sanitizers, and other suggestions based on your research).
Once you have compiled some changes, gather your team and run through the updates with them. Working through the updates with your team will increase awareness, can help identify challenges they may run into during implementation, and may yield new ideas for procedures.
For your Safety Management System (SMS)
An SMS lends itself well to evaluating health concerns, since an SMS is all about assessing and managing risk.
As the risk mitigation process will be similar to assessing a risk of a different nature, you may not have to adjust your SMS procedures; however, there are a few things to keep in mind:
First, perform a risk assessment. Will health risks preclude safe operations? What mitigations can be put in place to lower the health risks? Are there adequate resources available to execute these mitigations? Use the information you are gathering and the procedures you are writing or updating to support this risk assessment. You may also want to consult with other operators at the airport or your airport management in these discussions.
You may also want to consider updating your company’s Safety Risk Profile. Ensure the additional risks and mitigations you have prepared are captured for future use and tracking purposes.
Lastly, if a health issue does arise, make sure it is reported per your incident and hazard reporting process. Perform a root cause analysis to discover why mitigations were ineffective and make modifications to them for the future. This is crucial to preclude a recurrence.
For your Emergency Response Plan (ERP)
The ERP will be key in responding to a travel health or medical emergency. These procedures will make sure everyone is aware of what needs to be done for a successful response.
A good place to start is to verify that any contact information in your ERP is up-to-date. This will benefit you not only in the event of a medical emergency, but for any emergency type. Additionally, it may also be valuable to evaluate your chain of succession to make sure all roles can be served by a backup in case of illness.
Verify you have policies for medical emergencies.
- Make sure personnel are aware of resources at their disposal (First Aid kit locations, AED locations, etc.).
- Ensure contact information for emergency services (such as medical assistance, police, and fire) is widely known and personnel know who in the department to contact in case of an emergency.
- Outline who will accompany an injured or ill individual to the hospital, at and away from home base.
- Review emergency contact information with your team to make sure it is still accurate. Additionally, make sure your ERP is clear on who is authorized to contact and provide support to emergency contacts and families of affected individuals. Consider additional information that would be useful during a health emergency, such as allergies, insurance information, prescribed medications, etc.
Lastly, plan a drill to practice these procedures and identify weak points. Involve as many resources as you can, including your whole department, corporate and administrative personnel (if applicable), medical services, airport authorities, and emergency responders.
This not only helps strengthen your plan, but also provides reassurance to your team as they have been trained to respond.
Need help with any of the above? We would be happy to support you. Contact us today.