Safe at Work: COVID-19 Toolkit for Manufacturers


Infectious diseases like COVID-19 spread from person to person through small droplets expelled when an infected person coughs or exhales. An individual may also get infected when they touch a surface where droplets have landed and then touch their mouth, nose or eyes.

Manufacturing facilities have several opportunities to help protect their employees from being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Following proper hand hygiene protocols; more frequent updated cleaning and disinfecting procedures focused on virus abatement; and implementing operational measures in your facility are paramount during the ongoing pandemic.

How can COVID-19 spread in your manufacturing facility?

  1. Through the air by coughing and sneezing
  2. Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  3. Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes

Hand hygiene

As your manufacturing site continues operating amid COVID-19, it's important to place an increased focus on frequent and proper handwashing and hand sanitizing to protect your employees. You can improve adherence to regular handwashing by strategically placing posters around your manufacturing facility. Plant workers should wash their hands:

• At the start and the end of their shifts and breaks
• After using the restroom
• When moving from one zone to another
• After disposing of waste
• After eating or drinking
• After removing protective gloves
• Sneezing, coughing or using a tissue

You should only use hand sanitizer during the pandemic if soap and water are not available for handwashing. Since hands may become dry from more frequent handwashing, consider adding lotion to wash stations throughout your site.

Ensure hand hygiene supplies are readily available to all plant personnel in the appropriate locations.

Surface cleaning

Prioritize disinfecting surfaces in your manufacturing facility to help slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Here are some considerations for cleaning and disinfection during the pandemic:

• Observe operators during shifts to assess touchpoints and develop a checklist of surfaces to be cleaned between shift changes based on this study.
• Increase cleaning and disinfection frequency of high-touch surfaces such as tables, door handles, light switches, control panels, computers, handrails, elevator buttons, toilets, faucets, sinks, machine controls, equipment handles and shared tools.
• Use a registered disinfectant product known to be effective in killing the virus that causes COVID-19.
• Follow label instructions on the product for safe and effective use, including precautions, especially in food manufacturing areas.
• Wear gloves when cleaning, particularly when using disinfectants. After cleaning, discard gloves, wash hands and dry hands with a single-use paper towel.
• Train employees on how to properly clean and sanitize the surfaces in your facility.

Implementing operational measures

In addition to handwashing and surface cleaning, your manufacturing site should ensure that any employee who has flu-like symptoms stays home and is given time to recover before returning to your manufacturing facility. You should also review standard operating procedures to incorporate physical distancing of at least 6 feet between employees. If physical distancing of 6 feet between employees is challenging to implement, you should consider other measures to protect employees, such as:

  1. Stagger shift changes
    Stagger shift changeovers to help reduce contact between different teams. Clean all high-frequency touchpoints between shift changes.
  2. Add time between shifts
    Allow more time between shifts, so fewer employees are in the locker room at the same time.
  3. Set up zones and stagger workstations
    Set up zones and ensure employees don’t cross zones to reduce interaction between fixed groups of employees. Where possible, stagger workstations along the processing line as well.
  4. Provide protective gear
    Where possible, provide personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks, disposable gloves and clean overalls for staff to help prevent the spread of germs.
  5. Limit staff
    Review all processes and identify key operators required to limit the number of staff in a manufacturing site at any one time.
  6. Install portable dispensers
    Installing portable dispensing solutions can help promote hand hygiene and surface cleaning throughout your site.