News & Views

MANUFACTURING IN A PANDEMIC…

Creating a safe way of working to ensure staff are protected and their customer supply chains unaffected was the main objective. Neoperl UK treated this ‘project’ as a health and safety matter so their QESH Manager has been pivotal in taking the business through risk assessments, employee involvement, new process implementation, reviewing and constantly improving.

  1. Clear communication was key, ensuring that information was sent out to staff and customers in a structured regular way using a range of media. This included electronic display boards in the factory, group messenger to home-based staff alongside instructional point of sale and traditional emails.
  2. Health & Safety approach helped to give structure when looking at UK government guidelines. They assessed the risks using a typical tabular risk assessment and turned them into safe systems of work. Feedback from the workforce helped make them practical and ensured staff bought into them.
  3. Safety signs and symbols regulations were erected throughout giving clear guidance on hazards and what employees should and shouldn’t do.
  4. Social Distancing and Hand Washing were early steps implemented, with hand sanitising stations at entrances and clocking-in points. Neoperl also increased the frequency of cleaning in all areas.
  5. New shift managing of break times allowed rest areas to be used safely with less staff using them at any one time.
  6. Homeworking was introduced early on were practical and all recorded within the risk assessment. This immediately lowered the density of people in the office areas making social distancing much easier.
  7. Machinery and equipment in the assembly department had to be moved and spread out. Touch screens are now used with styluses and in some areas, the operators have their own keyboard which they unplug and take with them at the end of their shift.
  8. Doors remain open where possible (when they are not fire check status).
  9. Deep cleaning fortnightly and foot cleaning baths at all entrances were not legal requirements in the UK but highly recommended by their Chinese and Italian colleagues.
  10. Thermal imaging cameras were introduced in March allowing staff to measure their temperatures on arrival at work.
  11. Face coverings were bought in anticipation that it be made compulsory, as in other countries, but are now provided should staff request them.
  12. Observational Auditing is so important to monitor how effective the process is and if necessary, improve on it.
  13. Make Risk Assessments the bedrock of your Health & Safety Management system. Keep controls simple and keep your paperwork up to date you may well need it.

This guest blog was provided by Kevin Gates, MD, Neoperl UK Ltd

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