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Top tips for operating a specialty fabrics business during a pandemic

April 1st, 2020 / By: / COVID-19

IFAI Division Webinars this week are bringing together diverse members of the specialty fabrics industry to discuss how they are navigating the COVID-19 crisis. For companies that are operational—that is, they have either been deemed essential businesses or they are not currently under a “shelter in place” order—worker health and safety is a major concern.

Here are some of the top tips webinar participants have shared:

  1. Stagger shifts so that employees aren’t arriving and leaving at the same time.
  2. Stagger lunch periods so that employees aren’t occupying the same break space at the same time.
  3. Set up separate break rooms or break stations in your facilities to keep workers spread out.
  4. Divide your staff into two groups. Have Team 1 work for a two-week period, then bring on Team 2 for the second two-week period. Team 1 thoroughly cleans the facilities at the end of its two-week period, and Team 2 cleans their individual workspaces when they arrive.
  5. Keep all doors in your facilities open so that no one has to touch a door handle.
  6. Ban all non-employees from your facility. Put up a barrier and have an established area for customers and suppliers to drop things off without interacting with employees.
  7. Use this time to train employees via Skype or Zoom meetings on products and processes, improving the workforce so that it’s stronger when it comes back.
  8. Allow employees to drive their personal vehicles to job sites rather than sharing a work vehicle. (Check with your insurance company to make sure that employees are covered if they are driving their own vehicle.)
  9. If employees need overnight accommodations at a worksite, reserve a hotel room for each person rather than booking two to a room. This cost should be part of the job bid.
  10. Set up a professional support network or a buddy system, and call each other every few days to exchange ideas, give support and so on.
  11. Now more than ever, preach the need for PPE, all the time.
  12. Ask employees what their concerns are—and what they need.
  13. Develop policies with employee help, post them and publicize them.