Occupational Safety, Crisis management

Clear Covid-19 processes and zero workplace infections

How Pfizer is using the Quentic software solution to ensure its staff work safely during the pandemic

10 minutes02/22/2021

While the pharmaceutical manufacturer Pfizer was working with BioNTech on research into an mRNA vaccine to prevent coronavirus infections, EHS specialist Manuel Senger was wrestling with a very different challenge at the company’s Freiburg location, namely: How could Pfizer minimize the risk of infection on site? In conjunction with the EHS department and the Covid-19 crisis team, he developed a concept to provide 1500 Pfizer staff and 300 workers from external firms with effective protection against Covid-19.

Best practice: Identifying the essentials for effective occupational health and safety during the pandemic

by Manuel Senger 

In the first few weeks of the pandemic, we quickly came up against some major organizational challenges. We were faced with a deluge of calls and emails from our staff, with many messages and questions about Covid-19. It was clear to me that we would not be able to maintain a clear overview of the growing mass of data on infections, suspected cases and close contacts at our company without digitalizing how we recorded and processed this information.

Our Freiburg site has relied on the Quentic EHS software solution for all aspects of safety management since 2014. With this in mind, at the very onset of the pandemic we examined whether it would be possible to use Quentic to document Covid-19 cases on site. We conducted a pilot project and identified all the necessary processes, defined potential Covid-19 reports in Quentic, and tested the software in various different scenarios with a small team. Our goal was—and remains—to ensure that the reproduction number (R) does not rise above zero for our location.

In the first phase of the pandemic, it was vital to implement an array of measures to create a safe environment for our staff as quickly as possible, and this included launching an extensive information campaign. This and other duties were assigned to our Covid-19 crisis team, which has held meetings at least twice per week since March of last year. The team worked together to develop a series of measures in addition to communications, such as:

  • Structured recording and processing of Covid-19 reports

  • Introducing clear responsibilities and processes following Covid-19 reports

  • Recording and monitoring of all internal and government-mandated measures to prevent infections

  • Monitoring the efficacy of measures by holding audits

  • Providing easily accessible information for our staff regarding our company’s current situation

  • Integrating contractors’ employees on our site

The pilot phase was successfully concluded after one week, with the focus then shifting to integrating the entire company. Executives and management personnel played a key role in the roll-out and were trained accordingly. Quentic is modularized software; in a way, this makes using it similar to a playing complex board game. So, when necessary, you can stop at different stations, where you are presented with a range of moves – options for taking action or collecting information. The central station for us is the Health & Safety module, where you can initiate various actions and to which many other stations also lead back.

Inputting and managing Covid-19 reports

Station 1: The Quentic Health & Safety module | Incidents

Instead of reaching for the telephone or writing an email, our staff report suspected and confirmed cases of Covid-19, along with all other information on infections, in the Quentic software directly. In order for them to input information, we had to create what is known as master data, that is to say a Covid-19 data catalog. To this end, during the pilot phase we defined different possible unsafe situations and personal injuries as follows:

Unsafe situations

  • Confirmed Covid-19 case

  • Suspected Covid-19 case

  • Secondary (indirect) contact with Covid-19 case

  • Primary (direct) contact with Covid-19 case

  • Unconfirmed case / Corona-Warn-App “Level Red” warning

Personal injuries

  • Risk of Covid-19 infection

Each staff member is instructed which options to select and can then enter information into a form. They can open this form via their own dashboard in the software; in one field, employees answer the critical questions required by the German Health Ministry, such as “When did you last come into contact with other employees?” and “When did the first symptoms appear?”.

The staff member then selects one of the aforementioned sub-categories under unsafe situations or personal circumstances. After entering information in the form, these details are automatically forwarded to a selected email distribution list, with the recipients including the works council and members of the Covid-19 crisis team. Based on this information, the Covid-19 crisis team then determines the severity of the case. This classification can be altered at a later point in time if a suspected case of Covid-19 is upgraded to a confirmed case.

Clearly defined, automated Covid-19 processes

Station 2: The Quentic Processes module

Each report triggers a corresponding process depending on its assigned classification. We were able to visualize the if-then relationships between the individual steps by creating a large Covid-19 flowchart accessible to all staff in the Quentic software.

When a case of secondary (i.e. indirect) contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19 is reported, the staff member in question is sent home and can register for a rapid on-site test at Pfizer. If, on the other hand, a staff member reports a confirmed case of Covid-19, this immediately triggers measures including contact tracing and disinfecting the workplace.

One major advantage to using a flowchart like this is that all staff members can see the measures we are taking to protect them. This promotes trust and motivates everyone to play their part and submit reports where appropriate. Ultimately, if there is one thing we can say with certainty, it is that every report we receive has a tangible impact.

  • The task? Protecting 1500 Pfizer employees at the company’s Freiburg site against contracting Covid-19. The Quentic software solution played a key role in successfully overcoming this challenge. © Pfizer | Freiburg branch

Covid-19 KPIs at a glance

Station 3: The Quentic dashboard

When a new report is received, it not only initiates the appropriate process chain but also appears immediately in the Quentic dashboard. The dashboard displays statistics on the most important Covid-19 KPIs in real-time, such as confirmed or suspected positive cases, secondary (indirect) contacts and primary (direct) contacts. Plus, if an employee receives a Level Red warning from the German government’s Corona-Warn-App, they can report this via Quentic and this information will be displayed on the dashboard. This means that I, as an EHS specialist, and a group of people whom I have authorized – primarily senior management – can see both the current live Covid-19 status at our location and how things have progressed to date, i.e. the total number of staff who have contracted Covid-19 or reported a suspected case.

Covid-19 risk assessments

Back to station 1: The Quentic Health & Safety module | Risk assessment

In addition to monitoring employee reports and initiating corresponding processes, the pandemic has also forced us to draw up specific Covid-19 risk assessments, including deriving and implementing suitable protective measures. We have already established over 250 such measures in Quentic, defined deadlines for their implementation and assigned each measure to one or more employees as tasks for which they are responsible. These tasks include procuring a thermoscanner, facilitating rapid antigen tests, providing training and installing plexiglass screens. We then carried out corresponding efficacy testing.

This means that, in addition to effective protection, we also provide legally watertight documentation; at the touch of a button, can demonstrate that we comply with the German SARS-CoV-2 Occupational Health and Safety Standard and the subsequent Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, and that we have implemented all necessary steps with respect to occupational health and safety.

Instructing contractors’ employees and facilitating Covid-19 reports

Station 1: The Quentic Health & Safety module | Incidents

We also have 300 employees from external companies on site, and they also need to be able to submit Covid-19-related reports quickly and easily. To facilitate this, we have given our larger contractor firms access to Quentic so that their employees can submit reports themselves using the forms provided. In the case of smaller firms, the employee in question is instructed to report to their contact at Pfizer, who can then report the case.

Station 4: The Quentic Online Instructions module

In addition, as part of our visitor management process, we have uploaded some materials to Quentic to instruct external firms on our Covid-19 measures. Contractors’ employees can access this content using the software’s visitor terminal. This instructional content serves to provide information and enable external personnel to obtain a qualification required to access our premises. At the end of an instruction briefing, a series of important questions are asked that the individual must answer truthfully, including:

  • Are you currently experiencing symptoms such as fever, a cough or a sore throat?

  • In the last 14 days, have you had contact with anyone who has tested positive for Covid-19?

  • In the last 14 days, have you spent time in a risk area?

Our doorkeepers can then check Quentic to determine whether a visitor is authorized to enter the premises.

Thanks to Quentic’s ability to visualize and connect structures, processes and personnel, plus its intuitive usability and the dedication of every single member of our staff, my team and I have been able to achieve our goal: To date, there have been ZERO instances of Covid-19 transmission at our company.

Pfizer Logo Health & Safety Corona


researches and develops new therapies and vaccines to protect people against diseases, support their recovery, and help them to live with severe illnesses.

Manuel Senger

is a specialist in the fields of occupational health and safety and fire safety at Pfizer.