How Manufacturers Can Meet New Health and Safety Standards

As we all work together in the fight against the public health crisis, it’s imperative to continue to prioritize hygiene best practices in everyday operations.

In 2020, employee hygiene became synonymous with occupational health and safety across industries, especially for manufacturing sites continuing on-site production of essential goods. While manufacturers ensure the delivery of much-needed products to communities, the pandemic has heightened health and safety concerns for manufacturing employees on-site. With this, manufacturers now face a new set of hygiene considerations to ensure employee health and safety with new protocols, while continuing production and productivity. As we all work together in the fight against the public health crisis, it’s imperative to continue to prioritize hygiene best practices in everyday operations.

Today and on the road ahead, manufacturers must stay vigilant. It is critical we develop a guide based on our own manufacturing experience to help other manufacturers navigate this time. With this in mind, Tork, an industry leader in professional hygiene, created the Site Safety Guide for Manufacturing based on measures taken in its own facilities. Whether resuming, continuing or reevaluating hygiene best practices, here are some key considerations from our own facilities to keep at the top of your health and safety checklist.

Strategies to Navigate High-Traffic Areas and People Flow

Social distancing (maintaining six feet from yourself and others) is critical in mitigating the spread of infection. For employees who must be physically on-site, it’s imperative that manufacturers take all necessary measures to promote social distancing among co-workers, such as repositioning or moving workstations.

But social distancing can be tricky in high-traffic areas, such as break rooms, or when coming and going from the facility. Manufacturers can optimize social distancing and people-flow by creating designated, socially distanced seating areas in spaces where people typically congregate to encourage social distancing. Navigation is critical to achieving proper workplace social distancing. Employees should be instructed to use only one door for entering the facility, and another for exiting. Where possible, consider designating one-way corridors that limit potential congestion.

Ways to Maintain Hand Hygiene and Surface Cleaning Protocols

Hand hygiene continues to play an essential role in the fight against infection spread and must be required on all manufacturing sites to secure the health and safety of employees. Encourage employees to wash their hands before, during and after shifts with soap and water. When handwashing isn’t feasible, employees should have access to hand sanitizer dispensers that they can use in lieu of soap and water. Place dispensers in high-traffic areas that make them easy to use and readily available.

In addition to hand hygiene protocol, surface cleaning must be routine and regimented. High-touch surfaces—from human-and-machine interfaces to door handles—should be disinfected properly before and after shifts and at least once during an employee’s shift. Use disinfectants approved by the CDC—diluted bleach solutions, alcohol solutions and most common locally-registered household disinfectants should be effective to disinfect and clean these surfaces.

Visual reminders, such as signage, are an effective way to increase hygiene compliance by providing visual cues that keep hand hygiene and surface cleaning top of mind. Free resources are available to equip your site with clear and effective messaging.

Methods for Ongoing Employee Education and Training

Since its onset, the circumstances around the pandemic have continuously evolved and will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on the future of manufacturing operations. With new information and research coming out, keep your employees informed and up to date about the latest hygiene protocols, requirements and expectations so the whole team can safely work together and mitigate the spread of the virus. In addition to hygiene trainings, employees should also be trained on how to properly put on and take off personal protective equipment, including face masks and gloves.

As with all business functions, implement a plan. Consider a business continuity plan for possible disruptions, communications for potential contact tracing (if needed) and leave policies for employees who are sick or have been exposed to the virus. Designate a point person as a go-to resource for employees with questions related hygiene and safety.

The fight against infection spread is a shared responsibility, and manufacturers with their employees must maintain a safe work environment that promotes health and productivity during the pandemic and beyond. Keep these best practices in mind to foster a safe workplace your employees can trust.

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