Don’t Wait Any Longer to Create a Company Policy Manual

Changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic are an important reminder that you need to write down rules for employees to follow — particularly where safety is concerned.

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Question: We have been in business for a little more than a year, and our workload has increased tremendously during the COVID-19 pandemic due to multiple services per week and the rental of sinks and hand-sanitizing stations. We have company procedures and other documents, but we have not formalized all this information into a single company policy manual. In addition, we have also created several documents to meet health and safety concerns regarding the COVID-19 situation. Could you make suggestions on organization of a company policy manual? 

Answer: You are doing an outstanding job in producing procedures as a startup company. Formal, written guidelines are extremely important for any company, and your realization of this fact is commendable. The additional health and safety documents you have created to address the pandemic should be included in your company policy manual as well.

First we have a disclaimer: We can only make suggestions based on best business practices in our industry. Each company is unique in terms of its business model, equipment, employees, compensation, benefits, etc. In addition, state and local rules and procedures vary throughout the country. Please view this as a general model to build upon based on the complexity of your business.

The purpose of a written company manual is to formalize the policies, procedures, organization and culture of the business. All employees, managers and owners should then be synchronized to provide the absolute best customer service in their marketplace.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, written company policies educate and protect both employees and customers. Many companies have chosen to include excerpts of these policies on their websites and on social media to communicate their desire and intent to operate a safe portable restroom company.

Our suggestions for organization and content of a company policy manual include the following sections. Again, the organization of your sections and the order of appearance will vary.

General overview

This introductory section generally includes an area where employees sign that they have read, understood and will abide by all the policies. The company generally includes the equal opportunity clause (that it does not discriminate on basis of race, sex, religion or national origin).

Confidentiality

Certain information should remain confidential. Generally:

    Numbers of units and equipment owned by the company

    Names and locations of customers

    Prices of products and services

    Employee salaries, benefits and evaluation information

    Company benefits

The specifics vary widely between companies, but the basics of policies regarding compensation, holidays, vacation and attendance should be addressed. Other potential benefits could include a uniform service, health insurance and retirement plans.

Business conduct guidelines

Maintain integrity in the workplace and with customers at all times. A list of possible disciplinary offenses includes:

    Falsification of information

    Disregard of the safe operation of company vehicles and equipment

    Violating safety rules

    Insubordination

    Actual or threatened violence

    Firearms, weapons, alcohol, or illegal drugs or substances

    Removal of company records

    Destroying, misusing, or damaging company, customer 

       or employee property or records

    Sexual harassment

    Misconduct

    Unsatisfactory performance

    Absenteeism

    

Safety

This has always been important to any business. Now, with COVID-19, the policies and procedures for health and safety are crucial. The suggested placement of this section immediately after the basic information and before any other specific information pertaining to the individual jobs, procedures and responsibilities emphasizes the importance of safety. Suggested topics could include:

    Abide by all driving rules and regulations

    Possession of both a valid driver’s license and a valid Department of

       Transportation medical card   

    Wearing seat belts and employing hands-free technology while driving

    Adherence to Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules 

       on the job site

    Properly securing company equipment for transport

    Precheck and post-check company vehicles

    First-aid kit and basic knowledge of minor first-aid procedures in the

       field or in the office; in addition, a report should also be filed with the 

       office in the event of an incident

    Incident report forms and the need for immediate communication 

       with the office in the event of an incident

    Personal protective equipment

PPE is extremely important in our industry and has grown in importance since the pandemic began. The traditional requirements of hard hats, steel-toe boots, reflective vests, eye protection and rubber gloves has served our industry well in the past. With the advent of COVID-19, face masks, face shields and hand sanitizers in the truck are almost universally required. This equipment provides safety for the employee, and some PROs have elected to share this information with their customers so they can feel at ease with their portable restroom provider.

One other suggestion that has been effective is the complete cleaning and sanitizing of all PPE at the end of the day. Some companies also require the route service technicians to leave their boots and uniforms at the office and to wear their personal attire home. This protects the employees’ families as well.

Employee general health sign-in forms

Some PROs have instituted this safety measure to monitor illness and the potential spread of COVID-19. The forms are basic and ask each employee if they feel sick, if anyone in their family is sick and if they know of any fellow employees who may be sick. Depending on the occurrence of COVID-19 in some areas, as well as the total number of employees, some PROs have instituted a temperature check as well. This safety measure protects employees and their families, as well as customers. This is yet another safety measure you may want to share with your customers.

Service procedures

This section of the policy manual explains the proper method of cleaning all equipment, both in the yard and in the field. Other suggestions would include procedures for manually servicing portable restrooms that are inaccessible, disposing of waste at the approved wastewater facility and handling accidental spills in the field.

As a result of the pandemic, the need for hand-wash sinks and hand-sanitizing stations has increased tremendously. Perhaps during these times special care and emphasis should be placed on the service of this equipment. Best practices dictate technicians using a separate wand and gloves for pumping the sink. “Nonpotable water” decals should be prominently displayed on the hand-wash sink. With the increased number of sinks on job sites and at special events, care should be taken to ensure this equipment is placed so it is accessible to be serviced.

Company asset agreement

Some PROs issue equipment such as cellphones and tablets to employees, and this form puts the responsibility of safe operation and possession in the hands of the employee.

Evaluations

The suggested placement of this section at the end of the policy manual infers that each employee has read the entire manual up to this point and is aware of all policies, procedures, benefits and expectations. A written evaluation form presented before an evaluation period and then used as the evaluation document at the end the specified period is a good common practice. 

Other

We have seen some policy manuals where an appendix may contain a glossary of terms, history of the company, parking plan, etc.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

While we make these suggestions, each PRO must tailor this document to meet his or her own needs and circumstances and special areas where acknowledgement of the COVID-19 pandemic is important to both employees and customers alike. In addition, from a public health perspective, the PRO is demonstrating that a serious and conscientious effort is being made to ensure safety. Finally, this is a living document that should be reviewed, updated and amended as necessary. In 2019 company policy manuals, COVID-19 was an unknown term. 



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