During the COVID-19 pandemic, there are specific strategies and protocols that need to be followed when it comes to shop, factory, and facility maintenance. Utilizing reliable guidance and implementing suitable protocols is vital in regard to maintenance efforts in order to protect the health, safety, and wellbeing of workers and others in a shop, factory, or facility setting during the pandemic. 

There are a number of specific issues that need to be considered when it comes to shop maintenance during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Preliminary factors associated with shop maintenance
  • Exposure risk among manufacturing workers
  • Develop COVID-19 assessment and control plan
  • Educate and train management and workers regarding shop maintenance matters
  • Shop cleaning and manufacturing during the coronavirus pandemic

Preliminary Factors Associated With Shop Maintenance During the COVID-19 Pandemic

When it comes to issues associated with shop maintenance during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are some preliminary factors to bear in mind. These include:

  • The need to work directly with relevant local and state public health officials to ensure that existing mandates and directives are satisfied when it comes to issues associated with shop, plant, and facility maintenance. In addition, a facility needs to be certain to stay abreast of workplace safety information and directives put forth on the federal level, typically via the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA.
  • The importance of incorporating U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance issued in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes keeping abreast of current information available via the CDC Critical Infrastructure Guidance
  • The necessity to research, review, and implement or incorporate guidance presented from authoritative sources and other regulatory bodies or agencies as applicable. 

Understanding Exposure Risk in a Manufacturing Setting During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The manufacturing work environment has unique attributes that require unique shop maintenance in order to protect against coronavirus contamination and the spread of the COVID-19 among workers and others. OSHA, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources, has enumerated some specific factors that affect a worker’s potential risk of exposure to COVID-19 in a manufacturing setting. These factors are included in the manual Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19

  1. Distance between workers: Because of the nature of manufacturing, workers necessarily are constantly in close proximity to one another. Production or assembly lines are prime examples of why this is the case. Workers are also near each other when they clock in or out of their shifts, in changing rooms, and even during breaks. This lack of proper physical distancing increases the risk of contracting COVID-19.
  2. In addition to necessarily being in close proximity to one another, workers in a manufacturing setting are also near each other for prolonged periods of time. Manufacturing workers tend to be in close physical contact for a period of upwards of eight to 12 hours depending on the length of a particular shift. This prolonged period of contact enhances the risk of contracting COVID-19.
  3. On a related note, manufacturing workers can expose people to infectious virus droplets in the air. In addition, workers can also come into contact with contaminated surfaces or objects in the workplace. (These realities underscore the needs for specialized shop maintenance during the COVID-19 pandemic, the elements of which are discussed more thoroughly in a moment. 

Create an Effective COVID-19 Control Plan

The primary trio of manufacturing risks to workers during the pandemic necessitates the creation of an effective COVID-19 contamination control plan. Effective COVID-19 contamination control is classified in three interrelated categories:

  1. Eliminate hazardous processes in a manufacturing facility.
  2. Install appropriate safety-enhancing engineering controls.
  3. Implement appropriate COVID-19 cleaning and disinfection processes.

At the time a three-tiered COVID-19 control plan for a manufacturing facility is implemented, a companion education and training programs must be implemented for managers and workers alike.

Educate and Train Management and Workers Regarding Shop Maintenance Matters

The shop maintenance and overall COVID-19 management and worker education program must be comprehensive and ongoing. Education and training needs to include the most basic elements of COVID-19 infection prevention:

  • Physical distancing
  • Masking
  • Hygiene

The education and training program also needs to include information on the need for ongoing cleaning and disinfection of surfaces and objects in a manufacturing facility throughout the workday, over the course of a shift. In addition, the program needs to include information on the when, why, and how associated with deep cleaning and sanitization of a facility on a regular and recurring basis. 

Shop Cleaning and Manufacturing During the Coronavirus Pandemic

At the heart of a shop cleaning program in a manufacturing setting during the COVID-19 pandemic is not only regular sanitization efforts undertaken throughout the course of a shift but also regular and recurring professional coronavirus deep cleaning and disinfection. Ideally, a manufacturing facility schedules professional COVID-19 cleaning and sanitization on a reliable, specific schedule. 

In addition to regularly scheduled services from a COVID-19 cleaning company, a manufacturing facility also needs a professional provider that can provide “emergency” remediation assistance. What this means is that if a manufacturer reasonable believes contamination may have occurred at a facility, the shop needs a reliable, reputable COVID-19 cleaning company that can promptly intercede and commence immediate remediation efforts. A manufacturing facility cannot afford to be shutdown for an extended period of time when COVID-19 contamination is suspected.