There’s no doubt that as we weather through this crisis, the thought of getting back to normal life is appealing. We all want to be able to go back to work and be productive, to connect with our friends and families, and to freely navigate the world as before.
It’s possible that on the other side of this crisis is not the old state of normal which we are all used to, but some kind of new normal. What that looks like, no one yet knows, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for all possibilities, and to use this time to maintain as much normalcy as we can.
For many, returning to the factory floor after an extended period of leave can bring complexities that should be taken into consideration. Namely, how to ensure that skills don’t get rusty on a period of leave, and how to ensure safety on the factory floor.
There’s also the situation which many companies such as HEB Grocery, and General Mills are facing, which is that production has in fact increased dramatically, while administrative functions have reduced, and as a result these companies have started pulling workers out of administration jobs and onto the factory floor to keep up with demand.
Let’s explore some measures that can be taken to help with safety as labor is shifted or returned to work.
- Checklists: To make sure existing staff have prepared for new people to come back, create checklists to make sure everything from clean up, to documenting changes over the last few weeks, to supplies, safety gear, etc. are in place. Also ensure that returning employees have a safety check list that must be completed before returning to work.
- Routine: Quickly establish a routine for both new and existing employees. Routines are important in establishing a good working environment, so it’s important to make sure that everyone gets into a routine right away. Strictly schedule work, break, maintenance, and training time for everyone.
- Assess: Before anyone touches machinery or equipment, make sure you have a way to assess their ability to perform different tasks and recall and employ important health and safety regulation.
- Use paper based questionnaires for general safety regulation.
- Create a mini refresher course in your learning management system and have staff complete a quiz.
- Deploy simulation based training like the Simutech Training System to assess staff’s ability to troubleshoot and perform maintenance tasks while following safety guidelines.
- Correct: If you notice any deficiencies in the assessments or in the checklists, make sure you have a plan in place to address the issues. For example, if you observe that staff being assessed using the Simutech Training System are not performing the required Lockout/Tagout/Verify Dead process, then make sure you schedule time for them to practice troubleshooting in a virtual environment until they gain those skills. Similarly, if you observe from the course you prepare that they are not aware of basic regulation or causes of issues such as Arc Flash or Shock hazards, then quickly – if you do not have it already – deploy online training that addresses these issues.
Staff health and safety is always top of mind, the great news is that there are several ways we can ensure that they have a productive and happy experience when they get back to work.
What are you doing at your plant to make sure that staff is ready to go back? Share your ideas here.