Reopening Manufacturing: how businesses around the world are preparing for life with Covid-19

Around the world, industry is starting to reopen, and businesses are slowly returning to work. While the global consensus seems to be that business should phase in their return, there are no guidelines and each country is taking a different approach.

Even some of the European countries which were hardest hit by the virus are also starting to ease their lockdown restrictions. With new infection numbers starting to drop, they are also doing so in a cautious and phased manner but here too there is no specific guideline or model being used.

Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison perhaps said it best as he addressed his nation:

“It’s going to be step by step, there is going to be some trial and error, this is completely uncharted territory. No country in the world has worked this out yet … we will all work together, and we will all find a way through.”

Global Trends

While there does not seem to be any sort of global plan, trends are emerging. The phased approach is the first, which often includes limiting the number of staff that can return to the place of operations. Social distancing is still very much in place and masks are being recommended worldwide, with many countries making them compulsory.

The Challenges for Manufacturing

Manufacturing is, of course, going to be one of the first sectors to be reopened. However, these trends pose obvious challenges for manufacturing operations. Phasing in the workforce is simply not feasible as many operations simply cannot function properly with fewer workers. Social distancing is often not possible due to the way machinery is set up, and in some cases the required PPE is now in short supply or no longer available.

What can we do to ensure manufacturing can be reopened successfully and safely?

While there are no clear guidelines, some general advice and themes are emerging worldwide.

1. Have a risk assessment plan in place

  • To identify and assess the potential risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 virus at workplaces
  • To identify control measures (or the absence of control measures) and assess their effectiveness to prevent exposure
  • To inform the management of the risk of potential exposure to SARS-CoV-2 virus and additional controls that might be required.

2. Have a COVID risk management strategy in place

  • This strategy, amongst other things, needs to cover how companies address, track and report on the following main criteria
    • Social distancing
    • Testing and self-screening
    • Cleaning and hygiene strategy
    • Contact Tracing
    • The issuing and management of PPE

In many countries the Health and safety regulations for the workplace are being adjusted to ensure that companies are responsible for providing a safe workspace. Companies will be held liable should they not be able to provide proof that took every reasonable step to protect their staff against infection.

Now more than ever the accurate, real-time tracking and reporting on staff movements, cleaning processes, quality procedures and inventory is critical to your future business success and the ability for operations to return to normal.

TransLutionTM has put together a useful template to assist with your risk assessment. This can be used as a starting point for your business.

If you would like to know more about how TransLutionTM Software can help with your risk management, including tracking of social distancing, cleaning and hygiene and management of PPE, contact us to discuss your needs.

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