Manufacturing is one of several industries in Connecticut that has not slowed down since the Covid-19 pandemic began— and neither have the workers.
When COVID-19 first peaked in 2020, companies that produced food, medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, ventilators, and other life-saving products became an integral part of responding to the health crisis. The need for increased quantities and quicker turnarounds elevated the stress level of employees across all sectors, on top of fearing an unknown virus killing thousands every day.
Over the past year, additional research on how COVID-19 spreads and thrives has helped manufacturing companies across the country prevent increased rates of infection on the job. Unfortunately, not all workers in this industry are receiving the same level of protection.
Regardless of your exposure level, all Connecticut workers have the right to a safe workplace. In this article, we’ll review the common risk factors that put Connecticut workers in the manufacturing industry at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19 and the proactive steps companies can take to decrease their chances of an outbreak.
COVID-19 Risk Factors Affecting Manufacturing
According to the monthly American occupational safety and health magazine, EHS Today, manufacturing companies have continued to produce essential products with in-person staff throughout the pandemic. Few manufacturing tasks can be performed remotely from home, most requiring a person to operate machinery, assemble parts, or package freight for delivery.
In addition to increased exposure from in-person shifts, manufacturing employees often work in closed-quarters, surrounded by hundreds of other workers on any given day. Large manufacturing operations cannot be handled with only a handful of people standing six feet apart. It takes teams of workers to produce, monitor, and package large-scale orders or process heavy and fragile goods to ensure they travel safely.
The ventilation design of manufacturing buildings can also pose a risk for contracting COVID-19. Manufacturing facilities (though large) are often closed off to the outside elements to protect the products and employees. This lack of consistent airflow can quickly turn a building into a super-spreader when COVID-19 is present, transferring rapidly from group to group with no escape.
Asymptomatic individuals have posed a definite obstacle in isolating workers infected with COVID-19, but they are not the only ones. Many employees who have experienced symptoms of the virus have later reported fear of losing their employment or income if calling out sick. Not every company has been forgiving with sick time, and deadlines have forced many businesses to replace workers who have fallen ill immediately.
How To Keep Manufacturing Workers Safe?
Manufacturing has proven to be an invaluable industry in our society that cannot slow down, making it crucial for companies to understand the elevated risks our workers face on the job.
The following proactive steps highlighted by EHS Today can be utilized by Connecticut companies in all areas of manufacturing to help keep workers safe and healthy:
- Building and Worksite Preparations
Before allowing workers to return to their average day, companies should be making extensive preparations to buildings and worksites to accommodate state-mandated COVID-19 safety guidelines. This includes evaluating employees’ daily workings and interactions to identify COVID-19 hazards, creating cleaning plans for machinery, and designating social distancing guidelines in each sector.
- Outdoor Work
Management should encourage all workers who can, to perform tasks outdoors to do so often. This will decrease the number of workers in confined spaces and the risk of group infections.
- Hygiene and Break Practices
Consider alternating employee lunches and bathroom breaks to allow ample time for handwashing, sanitizing gear/protective equipment, and resting to restore energy. Mask breaks are also a great way for employees to catch a breath of fresh air during a shift.
- Training and Education
Supervisors and managers can increase their employees’ positive health and safety practices by conducting frequent trainings on new policies. It can be easy for workers to forget new COVID-19 safety guidelines under impending deadlines or when their work is dependent on physical assistance from others. Weekly and monthly safety meetings can be extremely effective in reminding employees about the most common preventative measures and addressing new health concerns that arise in the workplace.
- Protective Equipment
Management should adequately train employees on using protective equipment designated for each assigned task. Masks and social distancing practices are proven methods used in all public and occupational settings. However, in cases where workers must be in close contact, management should determine and train employees to use additional protective equipment to decrease exposure.
Connecticut Workplace Accident Attorneys
Workplace accidents and COVID-19 infections can be dramatically reduced when effective safety protocols are in place. Employers and contractors who do not prioritize the health and safety of workers put lives at unnecessary risk.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a workplace accident due to negligent safety practices, contact our experienced workers’ compensation and personal injury attorneys for a FREE case evaluation on: (203) 332-7700.