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By Baytech

Aug 17, 2020

Managing hygiene and infection control in manufacturing facilities

Though maintaining a clean manufacturing facility should always be an important consideration for employers, the pandemic has made hygiene and infection control a crucial aspect of the daily function within these environments.

Despite countless businesses closing down or having limited capacity during this time, numerous manufacturing businesses continue to function as essential services. In many instances, businesses working in manufacturing food products, medical supplies and other household goods, are finding themselves busier than ever as demand for certain products soar and online orders reach an all-time high.

With business carrying on as usual for many of these organisations, it is necessary as we continue to learn about the spread of COVID-19 to continue to evolve cleaning and hygiene practices, including hiring professional cleaning staff and educating employees. This will play a crucial role in reducing the spread of COVID-19 and other contagious diseases into the future.

We understand that manufacturing facilities come in all shapes and sizes, and for smaller operations this may feel overwhelming. Here are some considerations for employers and hiring managers within the manufacturing sector to take into account regarding staffing, hygiene optimisation, infection control, and what these might look like in a post-COVID-19 world.

 

Invest in quality cleaning employees

As previously mentioned, though maintaining a clean facility may have been important in the past, there should now be specific plans and systems implemented to ensure that hygiene is a top priority to reduce risk of infection. This means that just as much effort should be put into choosing the right cleaning providers as finding any other staff for your organisation.

It is important to learn from the outbreak information. Effective training, adherence to state guidelines and promotion of access to financial incentives when self-isolation is required to ensure your employees don’t take unnecessary risks.

Ensuring you are proactively putting time and effort into cleaning processes and hiring reputable companies if any elements are outsourced, will help to ensure cleaning staff have the necessary training, specialist skills, knowledge and equipment to deliver a high-quality service that is tailored to your specific working environment.

 

Training and education are key

Ensuring manufacturing staff are well-trained will help to reduce the risk of infection. Employers will likely have information about workplace hygiene protocols within their onboarding process, however revisiting requirements regularly and updating training based on the current situation is crucial. Employers will also need to work with the OHS Representative to build protocols for deep-cleans if an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19.

Maintaining high retention rates too is a good way to trust that each of your staff have undergone the correct training and have the knowledge to perform their cleaning duties accordingly. Particularly when organisations see an increase in demand or production, these processes can often become neglected. But this is, in fact, when they are more important than ever to ensure that your business is adhering to best practice at this crucial time.

 

Utilise technology

Like every other industry, manufacturing cleaning is being transformed by technology advancements. Cleaning services now use a range of advancements to optimise service delivery.

A key cleaning innovation that factories and plants are beginning to utilise is data, which allows a company the ability to ears. Not only are these becoming more portable and precise, but they also work with an e-tracking system to monitor cleaning outcomes closely. High pressure cleaning equipment too has seen a huge leap forward as has an ever-expanding range of chemicals that allows employees to clean environments quickly and effectively. However, it’s important to understand their effectiveness in eliminating COVID-19.

Technology is also able to connect manufacturing with cleaning staff in the case of cleaning requests on-site. Tablets or smart devices can be used to make immediate cleaning requests, which can see infectious agents cleaned up immediately, as opposed to just waiting for the next round of cleaning.

 

Everyone will have a role to play

It seems a world away, but before COVID-19, visitors to plants and manufacturing facilities had a relatively passive role in ensuring that the hygiene of the facility was maintained. This is not so much the case anymore.

Now, everyone from machinery operators to HR, who may only visit the facility sporadically, have a responsibility to ensure they are following necessary hygiene practices to avoid the spread of infection and disease.

For this to occur, it will be beneficial for facility managers and employers to prominently place educational posters around the facility to act as reminders or training aids for anyone visiting the facility. There should also be adequate stocks of hygiene supplies, such as hand sanitiser and soap, especially given the World Health Organisation has identified hand hygiene as one of the most effective means of preventing the transmission of infections.

Furthermore, employers should ensure they familiarise themselves with current state regulations – for example if masks need to be worn on site or if they require permits while travelling to and from work - to ensure compliance.  

 

If you are looking for assistance in workplace safety management or to ensure your workplace is compliant with current COVID-19 legislation, contact us about our Workplace Safety Services today

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