As workplaces start to slowly reopen from the unprecedented global shutdown of early 2020, COVID-19 infections and deaths continue to rise. Until there is a safe and effective, widely distributed vaccine, employers and workers will need to take extreme precautions to protect against this highly contagious disease. United States federal guidance has been confusing and inconsistent, but public health experts agree that these measures can dramatically lower COVID-19 risks in the workplace.
At the heart of the stay at home orders was the need for social distancing. The theory is simple: the fewer close contacts people have, the fewer opportunities there are for the virus to spread. Manufacturing lines tend to have lots of workers side by side, but this will need to change for the foreseeable future. Start planning now for how you can keep employees at least six feet apart and/or install plastic or Plexiglas barriers between them.
Disinfecting and Hand Washing
The virus can live on some surfaces for as long as a few days. If someone touches that surface and then touches their mouth, nose, or eyes, there is a risk of contracting COVID-19. Disinfect all surfaces, tools, machines, and equipment every hour, as well as during any employee switch. Also provide plenty of hand washing sinks with soap, or hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol, for your employees. Make sure they know to wash or sanitize for 20 seconds before touching their face or hair, before eating, and after using the restroom.
Checking each employee’s temperature at the door can help ensure that those with active symptoms don’t enter. Send employees with fevers or any respiratory symptoms home with pay, and instruct them to self-quarantine for 14 days or until they test negative for COVID-19. Keep in mind, though, that research shows that people are most infectious before they show symptoms. Never assume that your facility is COVID-free just because no one currently has symptoms.
Masks and Gloves
Wearing gloves can help prevent skin contact with surfaces that could contain the virus. Teach employees to put them on and take them off properly, to wash hands after removing them, and not to touch their faces while wearing them.
Medical masks are hard to find, but any type of cloth face covering can help prevent virus transfer from one person to another. Mandate that anyone entering the facility wear a clean mask.
Working from Home
Naturally, light industrial floor positions can’t be done from home. But allowing your ancillary staff members such as secretaries and some managers to work from home reduces the total number of people in the facility. Go through your full staff list and instruct as many as possible to telecommute.
If you need light industrial team members in the Chicagoland area, Alternative Staffing is here to help. We offer fully vetted candidates for both general labor and skilled positions, and we work hard to build lasting relationships with our clients. Contact us today or call your local Alternative Staffing office to learn more. We look forward to working with you!