Prepare your factory for Coronavirus
We invited Dr. André Peralta Santos, a public health specialist, to clarify us about how we can prepare for this pandemic inside our work environment, in order to inform our customers how to minimize the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in their factories. Accordingly, here are our recommendations on the procedures to be adopted.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a disease that does not cause complications in most of the population, because the risk of causing serious problems is low, especially in healthy children and adults. However, it may develop serious diseases in rarer cases, particularly in the elderly, chronically ill patients and people with a weakened immune system.
Efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic can cause changes in the normal functioning of our society and have an impact on industrial activity. Preventive attitudes are fundamental to protect ourselves and to reduce the impact on our community and family, as well as in the economy and industry of the country.
What are the procedures that should be adopted?
Planning, engaging, implementing and evaluating are slogans to protect the health of your workers and maintain agility and productivity of the factory. The competent health authorities advise organizations to practice remote work. However, not all professions will have this opportunity as is the case of professionals working in a manufacturing environment, particularly on the shop floor. For this reason, it is important to know how factories can minimize collateral damage.
1st phase: Plan
Identify the objectives to be considered for the protection of the health of your employees, and how to keep the factory with minimal disruption possible, during the coronavirus pandemic;
- Prepare a contingency plan documenting the procedures to be adopted in the event of having a suspicious, confirmed or several case;
- Develop scenarios where different proportions of the workforce are unable to work for a certain period;
- Include a list of important contacts.
Define a process to activate the contingency plan for coronavirus, deciding when and how to activate and terminate it. Consider:
- The decision makers that should be involved in this process;
- The situations that should lead immediately to the plan’s activation;
- The procedures that should be used in order to activate or finish the contingency plan;
- Ways of transferring knowledge from important roles to key employees, in an efficient way;
- Ways of efficiently reintegrate employers that have been absent, after the contingency is shut down;
- Articulate with health professionals reviewing the present work policy security to minimize the coronavirus dissemination;
- Be aware of the local health recommendations.
Define the people and resources that are fundamental for the factory operations, for instance, you should:
- Anticipate your clients needs for a short-medium period;
- Anticipate the supply of essential raw materials in order to avoid the constraints that the supply chain may suffer;
- Select the key functions that ensure the fulfillment of daily tasks.
Evaluate and mitigate the risk of exposure in the factory:
- A room must be prepared to provide some isolation in case a worker develops symptoms during his shift;
- You should place a dispenser for hand sanitation, preferably at each workstation;
Review safety standards to ensure that they are concrete and adaptable:
During the epidemic or in the event of a pandemic, adjust your factory floor safety standards to the offices to reflect the recommendations of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) ;
2nd phase: Engage
Have a communication plan ready for workers and customers in case of changes in the normal operation of the plant. Consider:
- How you can provide support to employees who experience anxiety or fear;
- How you can prevent rumors and misinformation from circulating and responding effectively if that happens.
Seek feedback from your teams of workers and partners, because the success of implementing your contingency plan will depend on it.
your employees to help develop and review the plan. If it is not possible to
contact each team leader, try to make a varied selection of representatives
from the departments of your plant;
the contingency plan to detect possible faults or problems that need further
consideration and detail;
the contingency plan with your employees, explaining the benefits that are
inherent, including extra work pay, flexible hours and health insurance.
3rd phase: Implement
It is essential to train workers on the contingency plan created for the coronavirus. It shall also disclose to the plant information on essential procedures developed by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Finally, apply infection control measures before, during and after the coronavirus epidemic in order to create a culture to promote well-being in the workplace. In this sense, you shall:
- Encourage its employees to follow the rules of etiquette by placing the inner fold of the elbow in front of the mouth when they cough or sneeze and to proceed to the hygiene of their hands at the entrance to the workplace and whenever they deem it necessary;
- Instructs its employees to wash their hands with gel based on alcohol, frequently and for at least 20 seconds;
- Provide tissue and trash cans with an open pedal;
- Ensure systematic cleaning of surfaces that are frequently touched;
- Ask your employees to stay at home when they are sick. For this purpose, check whether the policies of absence due to disease are within the conformity.
Anticipate absences, that is, prepare for the absence of sick employees or those who are caring for sick relatives, and be ready to adapt the set of measures necessary to keep the most critical operations in operation:
alternative suppliers to meet the needs of the logistics department;
prioritizing customers with the highest/most significant needs for your
to temporarily suspend operations if necessary.
Do not travel to active virus transmission areas, consider cancelling trips that are not priority. Consider digital platforms to follow up meetings or be present at events remotely;
Always keep yourself informed, regularly consulting the website of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), because although you already have an elaborate contingency plan, the current scenario can always change and need to adjust your plan.
4th phase: Evaluate
Finally, after the pandemic phase, reflect on which procedures have been the most effective and the least effective and make the adjustments that you consider relevant.
Protecting the health of its workers is a priority
To maintain the agility and productivity of your plant depends on the joint effort of all actors, since who plans to who performs. Therefore, try to create synergies for the fulfillment of the procedures that aim to protect the welfare of your employees and maintain the smooth operation of your factory.
The correct implementation of these recommendations and the subsequent evaluation of the results will become an added value for administrators and managers, since they will be better prepared to face future situations.