Safety Concerns in Manufacturing in a “Post-Pandemic” World
The COVID-19 crisis has impacted almost every industry. From travel to hospitality to the manufacturing industry, each segment has faced massive disruption since the pandemic. With the government imposing nationwide lockdown, industries were forced to stop operations temporarily.
While restrictions are being lifted off gradually, keeping the workers safe is still a significant challenge for manufacturers. Occupational Safety and Health Organization (OSHA) and also the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) have issued guidelines about the safety of workers. Despite these efforts, the threat of Covid-19 still looms over workers.
Here are some of the key concerns related to the safety of workers in the manufacturing industry:
The primary issue that manufacturers need to address is social distancing in the workplace to mitigate the risk of infection. To ensure there is limited or no contact between the workers, it becomes essential to monitor the manufacturing process and make changes as and when needed.
An industry with assembly lines can try to change the layout to ensure there is a distance of 6 feet between workers as given in the rules issued by the authorities. For many industries, this might not be an option. They have to restrict entry to common rooms, break rooms, or cafeterias to prevent unnecessary contact.
Another vital safety measure during the pandemic is the screening of employees. A majority of companies are now screening their employees upon entry. They check the temperature of the employee, and any employee with fever is sent home.
With close to 50% of COVID-19 patients being asymptomatic, a temperature check alone is not sufficient to prevent the spread of infection. There is a need to put in place better and more advanced steps to trace COVID-positive workers.
PPE Considerations for Protection
Many factories have installed physical barriers to maintain distance between the workers. The barriers made of metal or plastic are only effective until the workers move them. Here, masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) proves to be a better solution as these will stay with the worker at all times.
It is now more important than ever for companies to make the protective gear a part of the worker’s uniform to keep them safe. Whether they are working in close proximity or interacting with each other, wearing a mask should be mandatory for all employees.
Ventilation and Sanitizing Measures
While cleaning and sanitizing are believed to be a simple way to disinfect surfaces, it might be a challenge in some industries that involve working with liquids, oils, and chemicals. There is a lack of information on how long the virus stays alive on a surface, which makes it hard to understand how and when it will transmit. Besides that, it is a huge challenge to maintain proper airflow and ventilation at factories, warehouses, and other workplaces for the safety of workers.
The safety of workers is the primary responsibility of every manufacturing unit, whether during the pandemic or otherwise. While manufacturers are taking some measures to safeguard the workforce and prevent the virus spread, much more needs to be done. It is essential to stay updated with the latest guidelines and implement the necessary policies and actions to safeguard employees.
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