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  • Rising costs & falling profits

Rising costs & falling profits

23 April 2020

Manufacturing will never be the same again. As the world economy slowly starts to open up, we are all confronted with a very challenging environment.

With the calls to return to work to get the economy going again, governments, unions, industry bodies and business forums are acutely aware of the need to safeguard the health of employees before they return to work. These health and safety measures will affect all businesses from multinationals to small, medium and micro enterprises.

The manufacturing landscape varies from the processing of natural resources to the manufacturing of vaccines to prevent COVID-19 infections. Manufacturing touches all our lives on a daily basis, from the alarm that wakes us up every morning to the light that is turned off before we go to bed.

Health and safety issues to consider before resuming manufacturing operations

  • COVID-19 policies and procedures manual. This should be communicated to all staff, suppliers and other relevant stakeholders. It should identify the team responsible for implementing procedures with the ultimate responsibility resting with the CEO. The non-productive consumables manager should be responsible for all personal protective equipment, confirming that the required inventory of masks, face shields, gloves, plastic glasses, overalls, shoe covers, thermometers, soap, hand sanitizer, paper towels, tissues and disinfects, are maintained.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting. All facilities, including plant and machinery, should be deep cleaned and disinfected before any operations begin. The ventilation system must also be cleaned and air filters replaced. Adequate signage relating to personal hygiene should be placed in strategic positions within the premises.
  • Training
    • Returning employees and suppliers should attend training before entering the plant. This should cover:
      • Keeping of detailed registers detailing all movements and disease surveillance.
      • Daily screening in the form of temperature risk assessments must be performed on all employees and suppliers, anyone with high temperatures should be subjected to further testing with the COVID-19 test kits and are not allowed entry into the premises.
      • Health and wellness education must be conveyed to all parties requiring access to the premises to reduce any potential further spread.
      • Stringent social distancing measures should be adhered to at all times. Tea and lunch breaks should be staggered.
      • Employers have the added responsibility that all employees’ transportation is safe and that the required disinfection controls are implemented.
      • All incoming inventory and packages should be disinfected appropriately with the required disinfectants.
    • Risk assessments should continue throughout shifts to identify potentially infected employees. If any employees are infected, the correct isolation protocols must be followed. All employees must be aware that prevention is more favourable than cure. Employees must be encouraged to stay at home if any symptoms occur. Comprehensive human resource manuals must be updated with all the relevant policies that are readily available.

Policies and procedures should be monitored by internal audit or the required level of management. All compliance with safety protocols and identification of potential weaknesses must be reported to the executive committee on a weekly basis. This will appropriately elevate all potential crises and ensure implementation of relevant mitigations.


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