Published October 20th, 2020
Factories are adapting to evolving situations while the pandemic is ongoing. Some factories have reopened after restrictions were lifted on businesses and implemented some changes to stay operational. With the threat of coronavirus not going away until there is a proven pharmaceutical solution, factory operations should be aligned with government regulations that aim to ensure the safety of employees from new risks in the workplace.
Solution to Factory Operation Disruption
The latest pandemic caused a major disruption to the normal day-to-day operation of factories and other facilities involved in the supply chain of multiple industries worldwide. Factory operations suffered from a lack of manpower when factory employees needed to stay at home and limit physical contact outdoors to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Now that there is a resumption of factory operations and workers are going back to work, there are new guidelines in place to ensure that factories operate safely.
Guidelines for a Safe Return to Work in Factories
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have previosuly released a guidance for manufacturing workers and employers that supplement existing guidelines on how to help factories maintain safe and continued operations while mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Below are some highlights of the guidance that feature tips to be followed to ensure safety during factory reopening:
Conduct a Risk Assessment
Assign a competent employee to conduct a factory risk assessment to identify COVID-19 risks and other issues and come up with applicable controls. Another reported risk to consider for the safe reopening of facilities is Legionnaires’ disease caused by the Legionella bacteria. Facilities that were not in use for some time can have stagnant water and should consider taking steps to mitigate this health risk.
Implement recommended controls that mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the factory. Controls can be in the form of the following:
- Engineering controls such as changing the workstations so that employees can maintain physical distancing of (6 feet or approximately 2 meters away from each other).
- Administrative controls can be implemented to help avoid the spread of COVID-19 among employees in a shared space. An example is to stagger scheduled breaks so that you can limit the number of employees who gather in common areas.
- Correct use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) can be reinforced by providing proper training and educating staff on how to control the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace with the use of PPE and other methods such as proper hand hygiene.
Cleaning and Disinfection
Factories already have existing cleaning and disinfection methods but factory workers are encouraged to be more aware of frequently touched surfaces so that they are cleaned and disinfected regularly. The cleaning staff should also wear proper PPE as protection from cleaning and disinfecting agents.
Screening and Monitoring
All employees who are reporting to work should go through a screening process before entering the facility. Monitoring employee temperature and being aware of COVID-19 symptoms can help control the spread of the virus in the factory.
The New Normal in Factories
Businesses that are striving to go back to normal operations while handling new health risks in factories can use all the help they can get in protecting all workers and staying operational. New inspection checklists created specifically to address new workplace risks can help employers maintain a safe and productive working environment. Feel free to review and download the free checklists we created to help with the reopening of factories.
Please note that these checklists, while created with the latest best practices in mind, provide basic information only and are not intended to take the place of medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should also seek your own professional advice to determine if the use of such checklists are permissible in your workplace or jurisdiction.
Factory Reopening Checklists
Facilities Reopening Readiness Checklist
This facilities reopening readiness checklist can be used by facility managers when performing readiness assessments for reopening of factories and other facilities after a temporary cease in operation. This checklist can help ensure that the systems are functional and policies are up-to-date with the latest COVID-19 guidelines to ensure the safe return of employees.
Warehouse/Depot Check (COVID-19)
This warehouse check template can be used as a guide when inspecting warehouse/depot to check if COVID-19 precautionary measures are in place.
Employee Temperature Checklist (COVID-19)
Building and facility security teams can use this employee temperature checklist to screen all employees who are entering the factory. The intent is to control the potential spread of COVID-19 in the workplace by screening for signs of respiratory illness accompanied by fever.
Employee Temperature Log Sheet
Use this employee temperature log sheet to keep as many temperature records as needed whenever employees report in for work. This temperature log sheet recognizes 100.3° F as the threshold and prompts a visual cue for 100.4° F and above temperature readings.
Legionella Risk Assessment Checklist
Use this Legionella risk assessment form to assess the premises of a facility that was not in operation for a while. Record cold and hot water temperatures and check if they are maintained properly. Check if air conditioning and water systems are clean and disinfected.