Even though the initial shockwave is over, the COVID pandemic is the gift that just keeps on giving. The supply chain is still facing huge disruptions, and these disruptions are now impacting employee safety.
The Need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
PPE (personal protective equipment) is necessary for many industries to function safely. Personal protective equipment can include everything from helmets to coveralls to face masks. PPE regulations encompass anything that might be protective for workers, including safety goggles to shoes. Different types of PPE may be categorized by various governments, local and national, to support worker safety.
For example, in the United States, OSHA categories personal protective equipment into three broad categories: general industry, maritime, and construction.
PPE may be required for certain industries, and to not provide the right protective equipment for employees could result in fines or worse.
How Supply Chain Disruptions Are Impacting PPE
The pressure to obtain PPE makes things especially challenging when supply chain disruptions make it difficult or even sometimes next to impossible to get the necessary PPE for the job.
For example, something as simple as gloves might be harder to obtain. In fact, protective gloves have been undergoing a massive shortage since the COVID pandemic. The result has been that many companies are trying to source gloves from alternative vendors, which can lead to potentially desperate measures.
What’s happening? Here are a number of issues:
- Trusted suppliers are running out of items.
- Prices of commonly purchased items have been rising dramatically.
- Companies are often forced to look for lower priced substitutes.
- Many products are now limited in availability or number.
- Even if products are successfully ordered deliveries can be delayed.
- At worst, orders are often cancelled at the last minute, really putting businesses in a bind.
Because of these numerous problems many companies are now resorting to using less than optimal equipment. But subpar PPE can put employees at risk.
According to OH&S, an industry magazine dedicated to Occupational Health & Safety that’s been around for more than 90 years:
“To overcome these issues, companies may need to adjust their procurement processes to emphasize flexibility, redundancy and transparency. In the face of trials, many employers are forced to use inferior and marginally less expensive alternative products, such as vinyl gloves or hybrid nitrile & vinyl gloves. Other companies are scrambling to get whatever glove they can, disregarding the brand or the manufacturer. Compliance and procurement departments are accelerating new vendor approvals or ignoring quality standard requirements to alleviate the supply constraint. Safety has also become an issue as many customers and distributors report that some manufacturers are rushing to fill the present demand with substandard merchandise.”
Planning Ahead for Sustainability and Risk Reduction
Unfortunately, we don’t foresee the supply chain problems going away anytime soon. Even if they do get better in the short term, events in the world right now are so in flux, that it’s a good idea to plan for the worst. Of course, we want to hope for the best. But the stronger your systems are, the more you’ll be able to weather any surprises, such as a renewed pandemic.
Thus, businesses should focus on supply chain sustainability and resilience. Risk reduction should also be a part of this equation. A thorough analysis is beyond the scope of this particular article, but strategies for businesses could include things like finding ways to transition to reusable PPE solutions if and when feasible. Having redundancy in vendors might also be a good idea, so that if one fails, another one can be turned too quickly without a lot of last-minute vetting.
Improving IT Workflows With Document Management Solutions
Since proTECH is a technology solutions company, we can speak to the benefits of improving IT workflows in making supply chain management a lot smoother. The better your workflows are, the more quickly you’ll be able to pivot if you need to suddenly change course. This is why we recommend document management solutions to our customers who need to do a lot of vendor management.
A customized document management solution can help significantly with managing bids, tenders, and RFPs as well as invoicing and other communications.
Document management can create easy collaboration with your team, and help organize documents so that it’s much easier to find what is needed.
For example, if a team member is researching a particular product for procurement purchase purposes, they can easily organize their research into the document management system so that it’s easily retrieved later by other procurement professionals.
These improved systems and workflows can make it much easier to navigate a supply chain crisis and improve the odds of getting the PPE your organization needs.
Getting Started With Document Management Solutions
Getting ahead of the supply chain disruption requires solid systems and workflows. Perry proTECH can help with customized document management solutions for your business. We can assess the current and projected needs of your business, review your existing workflows, and help determine the right document management solution to support your goals. Our document management solutions are secure and flexible and can help you overcome any business challenge. Document management can be especially helpful in invoicing and bidding for equipment and other business needs.
Perry proTECH is a leading provider of Managed IT Services, helping organizations of all sizes improve workflows, enhance productivity, and boost cybersecurity. Contact us today to learn more about how document management solutions can help with procurement.