Manufacturing Facility Reopening Checklists

Plan facility reopening procedures using digital inspection checklists for a safer transition to the workplace after the COVID-19 pandemic

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Published May 18th, 2020

The Current State of Manufacturing Facilities

The global COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people do business across the globe. During the onset of the outbreak in February 2020, 60% of US manufacturers have said that their business has been impacted by the pandemic. Further, the negative impact on business has led to disruptions in shipping and logistics, product restrictions, offshore factory suspensions, and a surge in the cost of goods.

Now, more than ever, it’s critical for businesses to conduct reopening inspections to ensure the operational readiness of their facility. Uncertainty is, understandably, the most common and dominant sentiment, and conducting a thorough inspection before reopening your business will help curb this.

One of the first things to ensure is that your organization comply with federal and state health and safety standards. Employers are also mandated by law to adhere to OSHA Section 5(a)(1), which states that “each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.” Depending on where a business operates, there may be state statutes and other laws that have to be followed with respect to employees and third parties who enter the manufacturing facility.

Challenges of Manufacturing Facility Reopening

Although inspections are not new processes, by any means, their implementation and the best practices continue to evolve due to the global pandemic. Established standards are now under threat of being drastically modified to adapt to what many now refer to as “the new normal.”

Mitigating risks is not as simple as before because there are now a number of other considerations when conducting checks or inspections. Checklists or inspection templates may have to be modified to be applicable to the current situation; best practices will also have to be revisited to see if they are still feasible. Employers will have to make difficult choices as they resume operations after partial or total shutdowns because reopening a manufacturing facility may be hindered by a number of issues, including difficulties in implementing and enforcing precautionary measures, scarcity of personal protective equipment (PPE), and other health and safety risks.

Moving Forward After a Lockdown

Employers must have a definite plan of action before considering manufacturing facility reopening. This entails managing potential health and safety risks and reviewing all available information and guidance that will help craft a plan that’s reasonable enough to be followed by workers and third parties that enter the manufacturing facility.

In light of the current circumstances, employers should consider reopening efforts as a new beginning or a reinvention of the business into an entity that will live through and overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses should focus on three main points:

  • Navigating uncertainty
    The situation is constantly evolving for all businesses around the globe. If businesses are to stay afloat, they must be prepared to implement necessary changes at a moment’s notice. Steps taken for manufacturing facility reopening should both be scalable and reversible.
  • Mitigating immediate challenges
    The provision of a safe and secure working environment should be first and foremost on any employer’s list. Trust should be maintained through open communication so both employees and the management can easily agree on precautionary and safety measures.
  • Building a better future
    Reopening to a new normal means businesses can’t revert to their old ways of doing business. Employers should take this opportunity to create better opportunities for both its workers and customers.

5 Tips for a Seamless Manufacturing Facility Reopening

Empathy is vital if companies are to make a difference in this crisis. Putting their employees’ welfare first will help in creating an inclusive, productive, and rewarding working environment for all. Below are tips that will help make this happen.

  • Put people first.
    As employees come back from a lockdown, it’s essential that you determine deep-seated issues and concerns. Show employees that you care more about them than workplace problems by extending that care to their households and not just to them.
  • Redesign work spaces to adapt to the current situation.
    Ensure that employees come back to a safe working environment that fits the new virtual/physical hybrid standard of working.
  • Design your reopening plan in phases.
    As employees come back to the manufacturing facility, employers can’t simply implement a one-size-fits-all solution. Design a phased return-to-work schedule that takes unforeseen events into consideration. Re-engineer processes if necessary and establish an agile model that will help make your manufacturing operations flexible.
  • Commit to a sustainable—and flexible—spending structure.
    While cost reductions are prudent in this time of uncertainty, avoid sudden and drastic spending adjustments and instead adopt a resilient cost management system that’s sustainable in the long run.
  • Future-proof your business.
    The new normal is here, and it’s imperative that organizations make the necessary changes to adapt to an ever-changing business landscape. Building new capabilities and upskilling employees will be the cornerstone of every successful business moving forward.

In an effort to help manufacturing facility managers coordinate an efficient manufacturing facility reopening process, we offer reopening checklist templates you can download for free and use with iAuditor by SafetyCulture.


Alexis dela Cruz

SafetyCulture staff editor

Alex has been a professional writer and editor since 2007 and has worked with website developers, online retailers, and medical and healthcare professionals in the development of web content, content for blogs, and newsletter and manuscript content, respectively.