Safety still matters in your store

Schewel’s Home in Lynchburg, Va., has completed a detailed Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan – and shared it with the Home Furnishings Association.

The document was required by the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board. But its protocols are similar to federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines that Schewel’s Home implemented early in the COVID-19 crisis throughout its 50-store chain in Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina.

The Schewels Home plan can be found on the HFA’s COVID-19 Recovery Resources page under HFA Best Practices. It complements the Alliance4Safety initiative, a furniture industry partnership promoting health and safety protocols in manufacturing, retailing and home delivery.

Because Schewels Home sells appliances, it qualified as an essential business in all three states where it operates and did not have to close. However, it still had to assure customers and employees of its commitment to providing a safe environment. All furniture retailers must.

[Virginia sets nation’s first COVID-19 workplace standard]

Virus still presents challenges to businesses

COVID-19 has not gone away, and neither has the need to show that furniture stores are essential and can operate safely.

The strong demand for home furnishings products proves that Americans who are spending a lot of time at home want to make their living spaces more comfortable and functional. Those spaces are also serving as home offices and classrooms. They must be furnished to serve those purposes, as well as meeting the traditional need for sleeping, dining, entertaining and family time.

But consumers must feel it’s safe to visit furniture stores and to receive deliveries. In addition, businesses can’t function if they’re not safe for their employees. So, in the face of COVID-19 challenges, business owners and managers must implement effective plans to prevent exposure or, if virus exposure occurs, contain it.

Embrace the Alliance4Safety message

The Alliance4Safety includes the American Home Furnishings Alliance, the International Home Furnishings Representatives Association and HFA. It has created general guidelines for furniture retailers. The Schewels Home plan meets Virginia’s detailed requirements. It covers everything from designating a plan administrator, to routine screenings and cleaning, to safety practices, to procedures for responding to an outbreak.

New outbreaks are occurring in many parts of the country. Some public health officials warn the virus could spread more rapidly again as colder weather and flu season arrive. Putting plans like these in place can help your business protect your customers and employees. That also can strengthen the argument that more shutdowns aren’t necessary.

As a furniture retailer, you can communicate your safety and health commitment by displaying Alliance4Safety signage found on the HFA’s COVID-19 Recovery Resources page. You can send letters to your state and local leaders letting them know what steps you’re taking to meet your customers’ needs for essential home furnishings products and to promote safety and health in your store. Contact the HFA for resources to help.

[Even in hotspots, furniture stores can operate safely]

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