Keep Coronavirus Out of Your Plant

What actions inside the plant have others taken to keep coronavirus away?

Pandemics like COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, create a need for a new approach to managing operations within your manufacturing, warehousing, or distribution operation. This guide provides information and best practices related to minimizing the risk of COVID-19 within your workplace. Companies should review these best practices and implement those that are feasible within their operation.

Employee Distancing in Operations: The following is a list of items a company can implement to maintain employee distancing:

  • Move as many job functions (e.g. office/admin) to remote working arrangements as possible.
  • Stagger start times so all employees are not entering the facility and operating floor at the same time. 
  • Stagger break and lunch periods to minimize the number of staff in your break and lunch rooms. 
  • Rearrange workstations on the floor to maintain a minimum 6-foot separation. Where a minimum separation can’t be maintained, consider installing clear physical barriers or shields between operators. 
  • Move as many meetings as you can to a virtual format (or eliminate them). For remaining meetings, space out attendees to maintain minimum separation. Replicate meetings to reduce attendee size per meeting. 
  • Schedule shifts to avoid overlap so an entire shift can vacate the premise before the next shift arrives. 
  • Zone your operation and limit staff to only the zones they need to be in to do their work.
  • Create new shifts and split employees between shifts to limit exposure to a single shift.

Operations Management Best Practices: Best practices in managing your operation to minimize any COVID-19 exposure include: 

  • Increasing the frequency and depth of sanitizing efforts, focusing especially on high-traffic areas, high-touch items, break-rooms, restrooms, controls, and tools.
  • Conduct a routine cleaning in between each shift, and disinfect all touched surfaces.
  • Provide sanitary wipes throughout the facility and train employees on using them constantly to clean hightouch surfaces.
  • Train employees on self-responsibility behaviors (and refresh the training regularly) in regards to protecting themselves from exposure (frequent handwashing, eliminate physical contact, distancing, etc.).
  • Post signage within your facility to promote proper activity. Refer to signage provided by the CDC.
  • Identify key personnel to your operation and create schedules and procedures to isolate them from your other staff to minimize the risk of exposure.
  • Improve and expand the cross-training of your employees across multiple job duties.
  • Remove all unnecessary items from the operating area to minimize the number of exposed surfaces.
  • Review if it is possible to remove lids, covers, doors, and other items that require contact to operate.
  • Increase ventilation rates and increase the percentage of outdoor air that circulates into the facility.
  • Temperature checks before entering the factory gate (use IR scanning thermometer that does not require touching skin or ear temperature with an alcohol swab in between).  A person who shows temperature above 99.5 degrees is not allowed to enter.Generally, measuring an employee's body temperature is a medical examination.
As of March 18, the EEOC permitted employers to begin measuring employees' body temperatures. However, employers should be aware that some people with COVID-19 do not have a fever. Employers may ask employees if they are experiencing any of the symptoms of the pandemic virus. For COVID-19, these include symptoms such as fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat. Employers must maintain all information about employee illness as a confidential medical record in compliance with the ADA.
Recommended steps:
  • Employers should develop and stick to an objective procedure for taking temperatures.
  • If a medical professional is on staff, that individual should administer the screenings.
  • If no medical staff is available, then the ideal administrator should be within HR or senior management.
  • Limit the number of designated employees that will take temperatures to provide consistency. Employee health information should be kept confidential, but not in the employee’s personnel files.
  • Employees standing in line to have their temperature taken should stay 6 feet apart.
  • Infrared digital thermometers should be used.
  • Actively encourage sick employees to stay home until they are free of fever
  • Separate employees who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms from other employees and send them home immediately. Restrict their access to the business until they have recovered.