As I travel from window plant to window plant, I am asking my customers, “What precautions are you taking to protect your employees from the Coronavirus?” So far, I am getting mostly blank stares. One plant manager said, “If someone is sick, then we ask that they use common sense and stay home!” Yet the same plant manager also admitted that his employees do not have sick pay benefits. In fact, I am surprised at how many factories do not! So, if someone is sick and they have a family to feed, the tendency is to go to work anyway. This is probably the number one concern regarding the potential spread of this or any contagious disease throughout the rest of the plant and consequently to families at home.

So, should manufacturing plants that don’t currently offer sick pay suddenly consider adding such benefits, even if on a temporary basis, in the wake of what has just been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization?

An article by Jessica Migala tells us what we know so far about how coronavirus is spread. In most cases it’s by people who are infected and are displaying outward symptoms, even though in some cases there can also be asymptomatic carriers as well. Therefore, mandating that ill employees must stay at home and in fact ordering them to leave the plant when displaying outward symptoms is one of the most important factors to help prevent the spread of the disease. The next most important thing that can be done is to routinely disinfect surfaces that are commonly shared or touched by multiple employees. Placing multiple hand sanitizer dispensaries throughout the plant and disinfecting wipes next to computers, machinery operation panels, vending machines and cafeteria surfaces is also very important. You can leave it up to employees to voluntarily wipe down these surfaces, but it would be a much better idea to assign someone the specific task of disinfecting continuously throughout the day on a set schedule.

As I travel for business, I am finding attitudes on the coronavirus range from the beginning of a Zombie Apocalypse to a politically motivated exaggeration. One thing is for sure, in an industry where factory workers are already in such short supply, owners of door and window plants owe it to their employees and shareholders to take the virus seriously, and to take appropriate measures to curtail its spread. So, what are you doing in your door and window factory to address this issue?

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