Workplace Safety and Covid-19: How Manufacturers Should Prepare for the New Normal
Find out how manufacturers and warehouses can protect workplace safety and prepare to operate fully with COVID-19 in the future.
The coronavirus pandemic has been devastating to business operations and supply chains alike. As we work toward what we hope will be a permanent end to lockdown restrictions, we look at how the right security solutions can help manufacturing & logistics businesses prepare for the new normal.
Here's what we’ll cover:
- What are the key impacts of COVID-19 on workplace safety?
- Protecting against common threats to workplace safety
- Controlling traffic-flow and reducing risk within your facility
- How can you keep COVID-19 at bay in the future?
- What are the most cost-effective security solutions for ensuring workplace safety?
What are the key impacts of COVID-19 on workplace safety?
Manufacturing & logistics companies have had to overcome a challenging year in 2020. Whether the hit has been due to lockdown restrictions requiring businesses to close temporarily or disrupted supply chains holding up production, the bottom line for businesses is they’ve likely suffered financially as a result. We recently published an article titled ‘What Have We Learned about Workplace Safety During COVID-19?’. In it, we gained three key insights into the impact of COVID-19 on businesses:
- 46% people did more work from home during COVID-19
- Almost one-quarter of all businesses have temporarily closed or paused trading due to the pandemic
- Findings from our own 2021 Security Trends Report suggested COVID-19 led to a fundamental shift in the way organisations leverage security solutions
The government in the UK has set out its own roadmap for easing many of the restrictions that have blocked businesses from operating normally. Now, manufacturers and logistics companies must prepare to welcome, perhaps not a return to normality as they once knew it, but what is widely referred to as the ‘New Normal’. It will be vital for businesses to prepare for this transition and keep their long-term futures in mind. For many manufacturers and logistics companies, this will likely mean the return of staff and customers to their facilities, the need for more cost-effective processes, and even expanding operations to make up for the lost time.
Protecting your people, safeguarding your assets and managing operations more efficiently will be key in determining whether your business can run smoothly and minimise any future disruption in uncertain times. This puts workplace safety at the core of your business, which is why it is our focus for this article.
Let’s look at some of the security challenges manufacturers and logistics companies may face and how modern security solutions can help.
Protecting against common threats to workplace safety
It may be easy to take the security challenges companies faced before the COVID-19 pandemic for granted because so many new threats have arisen since. Opportunistic thieves are still operating both inside and outside of your premises, and unauthorised facility access remains a relevant concern. So, suitable CCTV and intruder alarm systems are still an important measure to protect the safety of your assets (e.g., expensive machinery or stock) and your employees.
Fires risks can still be just as prevalent too. In fact, they are likely to increase as activity on your site ramps up. With this in mind, you must ensure that your systems for fire safety are compliant with fire safety regulations and that you have maintained records of regular testing. It may be time to consider a smart fire alarm management system if you are running multiple buildings or struggling to keep up with fire safety protocols – these can be easily added to your existing fire alarm systems and streamline those operations.
Our advice for manufacturers or logistics companies is to conduct a thorough security audit of your site and test your existing security systems, you want to confirm they are up to the task of protecting your business now and in the future. This is especially true of sites that have been left empty or running skeleton staff for long periods of time, as there is a higher risk some areas may have fallen into disrepair or been targeted by vandals.
Security will keep playing its traditional role in asset protection and threat mitigation. But, the new realities of this time mean security must enhance workplace safety measures too. Next, we’ll look at controlling the flow of employees and visitors, and how this will be vital to the future health of your business.
Controlling traffic-flow to reduce risk within your facility
The movement of people at work has become more integral to workplace safety as a result of COVID-19. Many businesses had to dramatically decrease the number of employees allowed on-site to adhere to social distancing and help prevent the spread of germs - we’ll discuss this in more detail shortly.
First, let’s remind ourselves of why controlling the flow of people has always been important to the security and safety of your facility. We mentioned the risk of external and internal theft to your business earlier, and one of the best defenses against this is controlling who is authorised to access certain areas. The right access control system will make it easy for you to manage who can enter/exit restricted areas, and can also provide a log of who went where and when. Recorded CCTV footage will add another layer of protection that may provide vital evidence in the event of any investigation after an incident at work.
Let’s now look at how access control technology can specifically help manufacturers and logistics companies fight against the spread of COVID-19 at their facilities.
The main COVID-19 safety advice from the UK government has been to keep a safe distance of 2 metres apart and minimise contact with others. So, planning the flow of traffic of people on your site can be dramatically aided by access control technology. Modern systems can combine with smart video surveillance to provide an automated system for managing site occupancy – for example, video analytics can trigger a response if the maximum number of people allowed in an area has been reached and access can temporarily be suspended until that number safely drops.
You should also install thermal cameras at key entry points that will detect elevated temperatures (a known symptom of COVID-19) in anyone trying to enter your facility. These cameras are fast and effective, which makes them ideal for maintaining flow during busy periods.
Of course, diseases can spread through indirect contact like touching surfaces – hence the emphasis on sanitising equipment and areas more regularly during the pandemic. By creating a planned workflow for people around your site, you may also end up with higher traffic at specific access points. Touchless access control systems can address both these concerns and support your new plans for workplace safety. Where a traditional electronic access control system may use a fob or card, touchless access control systems can use biometrics like facial recognition making them even safer and more efficient to use. Some systems can incorporate temperature measurement and even facemask detection, denying entry to those who have an elevated temperature or are not wearing a mask where they are required to do so.
This leads us nicely onto the next section where we will provide advice on how you can keep COVID-19 at bay now and in the future.
How can you keep COVID-19 at bay and protect workplace safety in the future?
There is no doubt that protecting your employees at work should remain a top priority and we’ve also seen how disruptive a COVID-19 outbreak can be for operations. But how can manufacturers and logistics companies keep COVID-19 at bay in the long run?
Much of what we’ve already discussed will certainly be a great start, especially implementing a robust system for managing the flow of people in and out of your facility. Hopefully, you understand that it is likely you’ll need to combine different security technology to achieve the desired level of protection and safety for your business. It is also worth noting that as you change any of your systems for workplace safety, you’ll also need to review your policies to support them.
We’ve mainly looked at what you might call the first line of defence against the risk of diseases like COVID-19, physically trying to keep your facility germ-free. But record-keeping can be just as vital to ensuring your facility is safe and compliant. There will always be a chance of some disease or other form of contamination, which you will need to quarantine to limit risk to the welfare of your employees and avoid disrupting operations. Time and attendance and visitor management systems can help you quickly trace and identify which people or what areas require urgent attention.
Remember, workplace safety isn’t just about your actions on-site, policies and the records you keep are equally important.
What are the most cost-effective security solutions for ensuring workplace safety?
Safety is important but it is an investment, so businesses are right to ask about the most cost-effective security solutions. The simple answer is that all the solutions we have mentioned are designed to make your facility safer and help you manage operations more efficiently. Thankfully, modern security technology has evolved from serving a singular purpose, with many systems also providing important analytics and reporting functions to help you run your business.
Don’t worry if managing multiple security systems seems daunting, you can combine all of them into one workspace by integrating your security. Alternatively, you can outsource everything with a fully managed and fully remote security management service.
You can also protect your cash-flow by spreading the cost of any upgrades or new equipment into manageable monthly payments. STANLEY Assure is our finance solution for businesses wishing to benefit from up-to-date technology without the risks of asset ownership.
There really are no limits to the level of protection you can provide to your employees and your assets. The most important thing is that you do take action now in safeguarding your business as we move toward the new normal.