Find 8 helpful tips to help manufacturers keep their workforce healthy as the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) continues to spread across the United States.
Manufacturing is an essential industry. It was a treacherous battle to keep manufacturers operational amidst the COVID-19 closure of non-essential businesses. Through the support of New Jersey’s manufacturing community, local legislators and Governor Phil Murphy took NJMEP’s advice and allowed these businesses to remain open as other businesses were forced to close their doors.
How to Keep Facilities COVID-19 Free
1. Back-Office, Work from Home
Any office employees that can work remotely, should be working from home. Sales, marketing, finance, operations, and the back-office should be staying out of the facility. Technology and connectivity allow people that work behind a computer to work from anywhere around the world. Manufacturing professionals don’t have that option. Allowing people that can work remotely to stay home will greatly reduce the chance of the manufacturing workforce from contracting COVID-19 and help keep a facility up and running.
2. Social Distancing
Take social distancing seriously. Everyone in a manufacturing facility should stay at least 6 feet apart. Manufacturers’ facilities may not be currently conducive to this new standard of personal space i.e. social distancing. It may take a manufacturer rearranging some of their equipment to accommodate the 6 feet rule. However, this may become the new standard even after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. By ensuring employees have more space in between them, an employer can expect less sick days in general.
3. Reduce Touchable Surfaces
Eliminate as many communal surfaces as possible to stem the spread of COVID-19. Keep doors open wherever possible to avoid employees from touching the handles. Switch to no-touch disposal trash cans or remove lids. Most importantly, be vigilant when it comes to cleaning practices. Disinfect all touched surfaces between each shift. This might be the ideal time to develop a committee responsible for the facility’s cleanliness.
4. Increase Ventilation
Ensure that you increase the percentage of outdoor air circulating through a facility. Increase ventilation rates and/or open windows when weather permits. Keeping fresh air in a facility will help reduce the chance of the Coronavirus from being passed around a manufacturing operation.
5. Virtual Meetings
Eliminate in-person meetings. Compile critical information into an email or utilize virtual meeting rooms like Zoom. Using virtual meeting services can eliminate the need to cram people into a confined area which can further spread of COVID-19.
6. Stagger Shift Start Times
Manufacturers have been staggering the start and stop times of their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd shift to avoid overlap. This will take some experimenting to enact. Communication with the workforce will be key to implement this strategy successfully. Find what system works best for a specific manufacturing business, ideally a manufacturer will want to avoid as much downtime as possible.
7. Special Protections on Key Personnel
Personnel that are essential to keep a facility open such as boiler operators, wastewater treatment engineers, lead electricians, maintenance technicians, etc. must be isolated. Instruct the rest of the workforce to keep their distance from these individuals. Keep sections of the facility roped off to protect this essential staff. Speak with this group about the importance of keeping 6 feet of separation between them and the rest of the workforce. Encourage all staff to do the same, however, extra precautions should be taken to isolate essential personnel.
8. Cleanliness and Hygiene
ThomasNet created a list of Northern New Jersey industrial cleaning services. If a member of the staff is found to be infected with COVID-19, follow this link. Cleanliness and hygiene are the two best ways to combat COVID-19. Be sure to communicate with the workforce about best practices when it comes to maintaining proper hygiene. Use the CDC cleaning and disinfection recommendations to keep a manufacturing operation Coronavirus-free.
This pandemic has stretched manufacturers to their limits. Uncertainty and misinformation are both prevalent. Turning to trusted sources will be invaluable to help keep business moving forward. Be sure to turn to NJMEP’s COVID-19 Resource Page for any questions or to locate critical New Jersey manufacturing resources. Don’t hesitate to Contact NJMEP with any questions about relief available or to learn more about services designed to help manufacturers overcome supply chain and business disruptions.