Coronavirus Alert! How Manufacturers Can Keep Superbugs Out

February 20, 2020 - minute read

Employers are scrambling to plan for the latest international health crisis: COVID-19, also widely known as Coronavirus. In light of what’s happening to the Chinese manufacturing sector, manufacturers are particularly concerned about operational setbacks, costly constraints to workforce management, as well as the health and well-being of their employees. 

Because so much is at stake, it’s critical to get ahead of issues like these. Luckily, the US has time to prepare- as well as conduct preventative efforts to contain the spread of potential superbugs that may pop up in the future. While new information continues to arise about Coronavirus, let’s review what we know so far and how best to prevent viral infections  from wreaking havoc on your worksite!

Coronavirus: How Did We Get Here?

Since its initial appearance in Wuhan, China, Coronavirus has disrupted international supply chains, global manufacturing and distribution sectors, and the lives of thousands of hourly workforce employees across the globe. The super infection has already claimed the lives of more than 2,130 people and left more than 75,000 individuals infected.

The strain of keeping up with the global manufacturing demands in conjunction with these disturbances has left many employers feeling helpless. With many Chinese worksites closing- undersupplied, understaffed, and, as a consequence, unable to perform- creating a sound response plan for this sort of occurrence has become a critical priority in the eyes of employers. Regardless of how contained your operation may seem, no worksite or group of employees is truly safe from contamination.

Symptoms of Coronavirus

For confirmed Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. However, three primary symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

The spread of highly contagious diseases often start with simple symptoms. These generic symptoms may be common and difficult for hourly workers to avoid on the manufacturing floor. When employees are in close contact with each other, when they touch their eyes, nose or throat with unwashed hands, when hand-sanitizer stations are sparse or go unused, this promotes the spread of the virus. If any of your employees exhibit symptoms such as these, it is paramount that the persons in question be effectively quarantined until the illness is resolved.

How to Prevent the Spread of Viruses Like Coronavirus

When it comes to preventing the spread of Coronavirus, the EEOC has stated that employers may require employees to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), accommodate employees’ reasonable restrictions, and prioritize worker health above all else. That includes, but is not limited to:

  • Staying abreast of developments regarding Coronavirus and its status/proximity to each of your worksites
  • Engaging employees (especially managers!) on the importance of removing sick individuals from the work environment and isolating them effectively
  • Supplying PPE gear or immunizations (once available)
  • Creating committees to discuss workplace safety concerns, including potentially sensitive personnel (i.e. pregnant, breastfeeding, and elderly workers)
  • Evaluating workplace emergency response protocols and considering modifications to address potential pandemic-level evacuations, operational recesses, and even the closing of a specific worksite
  • Providing resources and contact information to individuals who can provide additional information, counseling, and HR administrative guidance around the employees’ health and safety
  • Engaging in consistent, transparent communication with all employees

Furthermore, it’s extremely important that your work environments are prioritizing and enforcing an effective sanitation or disease-focused policies- if not through a formal policy, then perhaps by providing formal training on protecting your workforce from drug-resistant superbugs.

By taking these proactive steps, you stand a greater chance of maintaining a healthy, high-performing team - regardless of the severity of the outbreak.  

Preparing for Superbugs with EPAY Systems

Many companies are lax in developing actionable plans for emergencies such as this. Having the right HR software partner can help you navigate emergency response communication, manage employee benefits administration efficiently, create effective HR policies, and assist with manufacturing payroll needs.

With EPAY’s integrated HCM software and Learning Management Solution (LMS), you can post an electronic version of your employee handbook—and/or an emergency-action training module—online, where employees can access it anytime. You can make reading it part of your online onboarding process, too.

And because EPAY HCM simplifies so many time-consuming HR tasks, it frees your HR team to stay on top of long-term initiatives and solutions. Need more information on sick leave compliance? Check out our on-demand webinar, Navigating Paid Sick Leave Laws.

Filed Under: Human Capital Management HR News Workforce Management Manufacturing