Posted by Thelma Marshall, Product Director, March 24, 2020
Undoubtedly, challenges in the manufacturing and supply chain industries caused by COVID-19’s international impacts are a top concern for your business right now. Keeping employees safe through this outbreak adds to everyone’s uncertainty, but OSHA is there to help.
Of all the things manufacturers and warehouse managers train for, a pandemic may not have been top of the list. The supply chain industry is facing uncertainty and your enterprise may be looking at a complete change in processes and product production. But, beyond navigating the financial impacts you must also know how to protect your employees.
Here are some guidelines from OSHA.
Develop an Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan
- If one does not already exist, develop an infectious disease preparedness and response plan that can help guide protective actions against COVID-19.
- Stay abreast of guidance from federal, state, local, tribal, and/or territorial health agencies, and consider how to incorporate those recommendations and resources into workplace-specific plans.
- Consider and address the level(s) of risk associated with various worksites and job tasks workers perform at those sites. Things like: Where, how, and to what sources of COVID-19 employees might be exposed to.
- Workers’ individual risk factors (e.g., older age; presence of chronic medical conditions, including immunocompromising conditions; pregnancy).
- What controls are necessary to address those risks.
- Options for conducting essential operations with a reduced workforce— including cross-training workers across different jobs in order to continue operations or deliver surge services.
- A contingency plan for interrupted supply chains, delayed deliveries or a complete shift in production processes.
Communication is vital
It is important for your employees to stay abreast of the latest developments. They will be looking to their employers for guidance, support and strategies to mitigate risk.
It is vital to implement an emergency communications plan. Create a forum for answering workers’ concerns and often this means internet-based communications.
Remember that knowledge is more than power; it also supports safety. Continue to provide workers with up-to-date education and training on COVID-19 risk factors and protective behaviors (e.g., cough etiquette and care of PPE).
Train workers who use protecting clothing and equipment on how to properly use/wear it, and remove it correctly, especially in the context of their current and potential duties.
Most important, provide training material in an easy to understand format that is available in the appropriate language and literacy level for all workers. If you don’t, a large void in safety will still exist. According to OSHA regulations, all employees must have warehouse safety training and materials in a language that they can understand, and your telematic software platform provide this. Communication in a language that everyone can understand is key.
A vital component of a safe manufacturing or warehouse facility, especially during this COVID-19 crisis, is clear and consistent communication among all employees and equipment monitoring systems. Fast, effective communication using a telematics system can continuously inform everyone of potential risks, updated training and protocols throughout your enterprise.