Whilst it’s absolutely essential to protect your people now, is there a way to ensure the investment will continue to pay off long into the future? We’re convinced this is the case, through measures that meet the new requirements of operational life under COVID-19, but will also improve your facilities for the long-term.
Here are 5 suggestions for things you can do…
1. Pedestrian Segregation and Screens
Look at your pedestrian routes especially in corridors and warehouse areas – where is there potential for two people to meet each other? Then look at ways to physically prevent this using pedestrian barriers, gates and turnstiles. For example Tekta supply the Prosafe bollard & barrier range.
How will this pay off in the future? Pedestrian segregation is already a major topic for many industrial environments due to the number of accidents each year involving pedestrian/vehicle accidents, so putting time and money into this now will continue to reap rewards. And as far as social distancing at workstations go this can be put down as an investment in Human Resources as staff are going to be much more conscious of infection transmittal in the future.
2. Make Hygiene & Safety Visual & Enforceable
The natural reaction to the current pandemic is to rush out and buy an extra hand sanitiser station or two, however without clear signage to ensure people know how to use it and behave, just having the equipment may not fix the issue.
Think of ways to ensure that following the correct procedures cannot be optional, for example link the hand sanitiser unit into the door or turnstile to physically prevent anyone from disregarding the rules – check out our Clarisafe unit, or for foot/wheel cleaning have a look at the Profilgate from Unisan.
How will this pay off in the future? Firstly, whilst the rest of the world has had it’s eyes freshly enlightened to the importance of hygiene, in environments such as food production it’s always been important, so will feed into your constant quality review and improvement process. Secondly, look at ways to make signage relevant ongoing rather than just for Covid-19 and then the same measures can stay in place and they will help to give your staff confidence that you are looking after them as an employer.
3. Add or Subtract Doorways & Introduce 1-Way Routes
Inevitably there will be some parts of the factory which act as bottle necks or where there is potentially a “collision” of traffic. Have a look at the plan of the factory and map out the regular traffic routes using different colors for the different parts of the workforce.
Now think about ways to make these different colors avoid each other. Sometimes this might mean a new doorway is needed, equally it might need an existing doorway to be sealed off (ensure that this won’t compromise any fire-escape routes).
Another effective method is to introduce 1-way routes, these could even be varied according to shifts or times of the day – for example a certain corridor could be 1-way for the first hour each day when employees are arriving to work and left as a standard 2-way route for the rest of the day. Refer back to point 2 ensure this is clarified with signage – for example Tekta can supply LED traffic lights depicting the one way system at relevant times of day.
How will this pay off in the future? By nature bottlenecks are inefficient so by giving this careful thought you could help to improve time-efficiency in the future. One-way systems will also improve safety and hygiene for the future.
4. Airlocking & Interlocking
Interlocks or airlocks are in place in many factories already, typically between external or low risk areas leading to high risk. Interlocking is an extremely effective way of separating traffic and reducing hygiene risk. However, there are also more innovative ways to use interlocking which will be unique to your situation, however we have listed a couple of ideas below.
You can interlock a door with a traffic light, for example if a door leads to a corridor set up presence sensing at either end of the corridor, and a traffic light system so that the door won’t open until the traffic light has turned green again.
Multi-way airlocks, typically doors are interlocked in pairs – however this can be set up in much more complex ways with 3, 4 or even more doors and it is also possible to interlock with machinery or potentially turnstiles, pedestrian gates or Clarisafe hand sanitisers.
How will this pay off in the future? As with point 3, interlocking and airlocking will contribute to your hygiene control and safety ongoing as well as in the current crisis, helping you to comply with standards from auditors such as BRC as well as helping you reduce sickness and absenteeism amongst your staff.
5. Eliminate, Investigate or Mitigate Touch Points
Walk the floor of your premises and make a note of everything that more than one person touches in a day, then categorise these into 3 categories – 1) Eliminate, these touch points can be removed (see suggestions below) 2) Investigate, these are touch points which you would like to look into whether they can be moved into category 1 or if they’ll have to be moved to, 3) Mitigate, these touch points are impossible to remove but the risk of disease can be mitigated, for example by using a hand sanitiser prior to the touch point, or installing an antibacterial handle.
Even hygiene points such as changing rooms and wash stations could present a risk due to the high through-traffic and soiled touch points so don’t discount them from your list. Look at installing touch-free hand-sanitisers or soap-dispensers, or knee operated taps for example.
Change touch activation for doors and machinery to touch-free where possible. For example a pull cord on a speed door can be changed to a TOF laser sensor or a radar motion sensor, and mushroom push buttons could be swapped out for proximity sensors. Take it back a step further too, automating manual doors and using touch free activation is another good option. Tekta can supply & install automation kits to all types of doors, ranging from sliding entrance doors, hinged doors to roller shutters.
How will this pay off in the future? You might be surprised at just how much your “touch-point audit” uncovers and everything that’s eliminated or mitigated pays off in reduced risk for the future. As a general rule, automating doors will be a big positive for the future, for two reasons: 1) Touch often means damage, automatic doors are less likely to be abused and therefore future repair costs reduced, 2) The risk of workplace injury is reduced, some manual doors especially heavy freezer doors do not comply with manual handling regulations – with all the Covid-19 muck and bullets coming at you, the last thing you need on your hands is litigation related to a manual handling injury!