Across the U.S., coverage of the COVID crisis has largely quieted down from the fever pitch it was at just a few months ago. However, the number of new cases reported nationwide these days is at some of the highest levels observed since the outbreak began, meaning there's no end in sight for the problem.
Nonetheless, work continues in just about every industry, including manufacturing. For that reason, managers may need to do more to ensure workers are safe and that it's not just "business as usual" on the factory floor. The following tips should help them get their arms around these potential points of concern:
1) Understand exposure risks
Every organization is different and therefore has a variety of unique factors that could leave their workers at greater risk for infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As such, decision-makers need to go through their facilities and assess all the reasons why the novel coronavirus could be a potentially major problem for their companies. Armed with that information, they can then make changes to their operations to minimize or eliminate those concerns.
2) Create a plan to assess and control spreads
Indeed, it's not just enough to put safety measures into place, but to also codify them and ensure they are upheld on an ongoing basis, so no matter what other conditions arise, the facility will be able to react appropriately, the CDC added. Something as simple as a policy around contact tracing for workers who end up testing positive could go a long way toward protecting others in your facility.
3) Rearrange your workplace for safety
In recent months, many factories have enacted changes that allowed workers to socially distance and otherwise keep themselves safer from COVID, according to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration. However, as coverage slowed, some may have reverted to their old standards, but it's important to make sure facilities allow workers to give each other a wide berth (while still being able to communicate effectively) so all involved can stay as safe as possible.
4) Provide protective gear
Along similar lines to enabling better social distancing or personal hygiene habits, it's also important that companies give workers everything they need to prevent the spread, OSHA said. That should include things like masks, gloves, even eye goggles, as well as hand sanitizer and a more rigorous cleaning process for the entire facility. Simply put, you don't want to be one of the companies making headlines for suffering an outbreak, and you need to get out in front of risk as a result.
5) Perform daily wellness checks
Finally, it's a good idea to make sure your workers are coming to the building in good health every single day, according to Industrial Safety & Hygiene News. While rigorous testing policies probably aren't feasible even for the biggest manufacturers in the world, something as simple as daily temperature and symptom checks will likely go a long way toward identifying and reducing risk factors.