How to protect manufacturing workers during a health pandemic

Note: This article should only be used as a guide — please refer to the latest information from the UK government and NHS for up to date advice.

In this article, Kelly Friel, from tool and PPE supplier Zoro, shares some tips to help you protect your manufacturing workforce during a health pandemic.

As an employer, you have a duty of care to your employees to protect them from hazards in the workplace. While it is important to keep up with your risk management in everyday circumstances, when we're faced with a pandemic like COVID-19, putting your workforce's safety first becomes even more important.

To help you navigate these troubling times and protect your workers, I've put together some safety tips that will help to make your facility a safer place for those on the job.

Continuously review your operation and workforce

Many businesses were asked to cease trading on 23 March to protect workers — manufacturing facilities were not included on the list, with some deemed "essential". However, many non-essential factories have decided to send workers home and close down operations for the time being.

If your factory is still operating, this is something you should keep under constant review in line with Government advice. Should you need to scale back or shut operations, it's worth thinking about who your key workers are and who would be most at risk before making a decision. Remember, there is also financial support available to help your business navigate this crisis.

Make hand-washing a part of the routine

One of the most effective ways of stopping COVID-19 from spreading is to regularly wash your hands, so you should set up hand-washing stations in key locations so staff can access them easily and frequently. Soap and water are the most effective defence, but you can provide additional hand sanitiser for use on the go.

You should also train staff to wash their hands properly. You can provide an instruction session for proper technique and put up reminder posters around your facility to ensure everyone is aware.

Provide the right PPE for the job

I'm sure your staff have access to and use the correct PPE for their job under regular circumstances but, in a pandemic, it may be necessary to provide even more protection. Consider adding items like gloves, face masks, eye protection, and overalls if your workers don't already use them, and provide training on how to wear and dispose of each item. Be sure to check in on a regular basis to ensure that these essential items are being used properly.

Adopt a regular cleaning regime

In times like these, it's more important than ever to undertake a regular, rigorous cleaning regime in your factory. A recent study found COVID-19 can last up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel, so it's vital that your factory is kept as clean as possible.

This blog has already talked about the importance of deep cleaning , but you can supplement this by making sure that your staff have access to supplies like disinfectant wipes and sprays to keep their workspaces hygienic. Adopting a daily cleaning regime will give your facility the best chance of staying virus-free, so be sure to train staff and allocate time in the day for clean-up.

Follow the tips here to get a good start on keeping your workforce as safe as possible. Remember to check the latest guidance from the Government and NHS to stay up to date.

Author bio: Kelly Friel is Digital Product Manager at Zoro, a supplier of tools, equipment, and PPE for professional trade and industrial use. She has worked in her role, maintaining the firm's online product stock, since 2016.