What We Can Learn About COVID-19 Safety From the NBA

NBA covid workplace

If you would’ve told us a few years ago that the National Basketball Association (NBA) would be a pioneer in its safety response during a global pandemic, we would not believe it, but here we are. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, then prepare to have your mind blown.

Not only did the NBA partner with Yale to develop and get a saliva-based COVID-19 test FDA approved, they are also teaching other professional sports leagues, as well as businesses, three valuable lessons on COVID-19 safety.

Lesson 1: Make workplace safety a priority

When you think of the NBA, policy probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But that’s exactly what allowed the NBA to react as quickly as they did when COVID-19 first started becoming a worldwide threat.

Existing crisis management protocols allowed the NBA to be ahead of other professional leagues with their first safety memo being sent out to teams as early as January 31st. Having protocols and policies in place is key for mapping out your workplace safety strategy – ideally, before you really need it.

After suspending the 2019-20 season in response to the COVID pandemic, the NBA recently restarted its season with a fully quarantined, dystopian ‘bubble’ at Walt Disney World and 100+ pages of strict health and safety protocols.

While your business may not need hundreds of pages worth of protocols, figure out what considerations apply to your business and follow official guidance on how to safely resume operations.

Lesson 2: Protect your most valuable assets

Now, we’re not saying that you should spend $170 million on your COVID-19 response, but, even if extreme, the NBA’s course of action proved extremely successful in quickly isolating and containing the spread of COVID-19. Here’s what they did, and how it can be applied to protect your most valuable assets – your employees and customers.

  • Keep your circle small. The goal behind the NBA team ‘bubble’ was to limit interaction across teams and minimize the potential spread of COVID-19. If possible, consider creating ‘work-bubbles’ by implementing staggered shifts; keeping employees who are working on different floors or locations separate; increasing physical space between employees and customers; and limiting use of common areas.
  • Monitor employees’ health. The NBA is monitoring health and testing players and coaches daily. Follow CDC considerations on workplace testing and consider implementing daily health monitoring such as our free WellnessTracker.com, which sends out pre-shift health questionnaires, to keep symptomatic employees or those who have been in contact with the virus isolated at home.
  • Use effective communication. We’re not suggesting following your employees’ every step, like the NBA’s digital contact tracing that allows them to trace movement within the bubble, but be prepared to clearly and quickly communicate should a positive case become known.

Lesson 3: Adapt and overcome

It’s everything but business as usual. COVID-19 has drastically changed the business landscape in Hawaii — from plummeting consumer spending to forced business closures, and new and sometimes costly safety measures.

But some argue that COVID-19 also accelerated new partnerships and possibilities. Businesses were put to a never-before-seen “innovation stress test” that forced companies to rethink the way they are doing business, as well as the products and services they offer.

The NBA changed the content they offer and innovated with new ways for audiences to engage. The “NBA at Home” workout video series and virtual fan experiences are just a few examples.

Hawaii companies also found new and creative ways to generate business — from mom and pop stores going fully digital to restaurants offering at-home dinner sets, local distilleries shifting their production to hand sanitizers, and stores offering personal shopping and curbside pick-up. Those who adapt are ready for the upswing, new and improved. The only way is forward!

If balancing regulation and risk management seems like a full-time job, you’re right. Here at ALTRES, we have an experienced team of Safety and Risk Management experts dedicated solely to helping clients manage workplace safety and prevent risk. Our team offers a variety of consultation services that can help your business remain compliant with both state and federal regulations. To learn more, contact us at (808) 591-4940.

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This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Readers should first consult their attorney, accountant or adviser before acting upon any information in this article.