As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread across the United States manufacturers are being forced to improvise to keep their businesses up and running. Officials across the country are advising that people say home, that businesses temporarily close their doors, that everyone should distance themselves from others as much as possible, and more. For manufacturers, the social distancing measures, closures, and disruptions to their supply chains are bringing worries that there will not be enough people or material to maintain production since manufacturing does not transfer to the home environment easily or, in some cases, at all. Times like this require us all to be more flexible and more understanding. Utilizing those, with a bit of creativity, can help your business not only survive this pandemic but thrive once it has finally passed.
Of course anyone feeling even mildly under the weather should stay home – a cough, a mild fever, a runny nose, etc. On top of that, everyone should be making sure that they are washing their hands more often than usual and refraining from touching their face. That being said, below are a few manufacturing-specific ideas to help keep your industrial business running and your employees safe right now.
Have Employees Work From Home
Thanks to the internet and a large collection of free or inexpensive tools, your office staff can continue to work from the comfort of their own home. Meetings can still be held utilizing applications like Zoom, GoToMeeting, or Microsoft Teams. The office phone system can be routed to personal phones or cell phones. Employees can continue to check emails and write reports. Tools like Google Docs, Microsoft’s Drive, Dropbox, Slack, Trello, and more can help your team collaborate and continue their normal jobs.
Stagger Shifts and Departments
A lot of manufacturing processes simply cannot be done from someone’s home – machining, die casting, extruding, metal fabrication, welding, and more – require special equipment and facilities. When it comes to the personnel that are required to be at your place of business, try staggering their shifts to limit the number of people at work at one time. Only allow the minimum number of employees you need to have the facility running safely, in any one department, at a time.
Limit Worker Contact
If you cannot limit the number of people working at one time, try putting up barriers between each of them. Make sure that you eliminate all non-essential company visits or deliveries. Provide appropriate protective gear, such as face masks and gloves, to help limit contact. Also, make sure that your facility is well stocked with hand soap, sanitizer, cleansers, and cleaning tools and let each employee know that they are responsible for maintaining a higher level of cleanliness at this time.
Although your business may be forced to shut down for a bit, or you will need to make changes to your staff hours, these challenges can provide new opportunities to examine your current workflow and processes to see how much of it can be done remotely, what needs to be done at the physical business, and how the new procedures you have adopted to combat this crisis can be integrated into your overall employee safety and efficiency practices.
Need more guidance? Take a few minutes to read OSHA’s official guide for how businesses can prepare for COVID-19 : https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf
-The Rico Group