Safety/Published: April 1, 2020

COVID-19 Safety Resources for Manufacturers

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COVID-19 Safety Resources for Manufacturers

Manufacturing environments often put people in close proximity to one another, where it’s possible workers on a packed production line might literally be rubbing elbows. Even where employees do not interact quite so closely, the potential is there for coronavirus to spread among staff.

As of April 1, 2020 the U.S. has more than 186,000 reported cases of coronavirus, more than any other country in the world.

For manufacturers operating during the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve assembled safety resources to help employers minimize safety risks to their workforce. Below you’ll find information from organizations like the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Institute for Food Safety at Cornell University.  

Check out our blog post on Audit Questions to Add Now to Reduce Coronavirus Risk in the Workplace

OSHA Guidance and Standards

OSHA has released Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 that can help companies reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission in the workplace. This guidance provides details on critical steps such as:

  • Developing an infectious disease preparedness and response plan, if you don’t already have one
  • Taking basic steps around infection prevention, including staggering shifts, cleaning and disinfection, promoting hand washing and discouraging equipment sharing
  • Developing workplace protections and flexible policies that keep sick workers at home
  • Implementing workplace controls that include engineering controls, administrative controls, safe work practices and personal protective equipment (PPE)

Employers should also review relevant OSHA standards that may apply to worker exposure to coronavirus.

CDC Resources

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has also released Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to COVID-19. This guidance focuses on key goals such as:

  • Reducing transmission among employees includes steps like encouraging sick employees to stay home, identifying potential COVID-19 exposures in the workplace and educating employees about reducing its spread
  • Maintaining healthy business operations with measures such as appointing a COVID-19 coordinator, assessing essential functions, establishing social distancing policies and preparing for spikes in absenteeism
  • Maintaining a healthy work environment with cleaning, employee hygiene and engineering controls

The CDC also provides printable fact sheets employers can post in the workplace on topics like hand-washing, how to stop the spread of germs and recognizing coronavirus symptoms. Finally, the CDC publishes official Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations for facilities with known or suspected cases of COVID-19.

Institute for Food Safety at Cornell University

Fortunately, there is no evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted via food, something confirmed by both the CDC and the FDA. Cornell University’s Institute for Food Safety provides several resources for food companies needing to protect workers while protecting the safety of our food supply. The Cornell resources include:

  • Food Facility COVID-19 Strategy Checklist
  • Downloadable checklist of frequently touched surfaces
  • Standard operating procedure (SOP) for suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in workers
  • General industry guidance as well as specifics for those manufacturers involved with dairy, produce, meat and seafood
  • Guidance on best practices and planning for coronavirus from FMI, the food industry association

National Association of Manufacturers COVID-19 Resources

Communicating with federal officials managing the COVID-19 response, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has centralized a number of coronavirus resources for the manufacturing industry.

While some updates are policy-related, manufacturers can also find a wide range of information on federal, state and local resources, including pandemic planning. Food manufacturers in particular may find NAM’s recent story on how one food company is combatting COVID-19 helpful from a safety perspective.

While we don’t know how long the coronavirus crisis will last, implementing safe practices can reduce its spread and impact. Manufacturers must lead the way, protecting workers while helping keep critical supply lines open for healthcare organizations and the public.

EASE customers: Learn more about responding to the coronavirus pandemic with our blog post on Managing Shifting Audit Schedules Due to COVID-19
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