Reopening Businesses After the Stay-at-Home Order

With COVID-19 shifting to the next phase, metalcasters need a plan to re-open safely and re-engage with the market, their employees and value chains. This next step will require careful planning to balance the market environment with management of people and operations. Following OSHA guidance is particularly important as employers implement return-to-work policies. Some foundries have been completely shuttered, others have slowed down to a single shift, but those with essential workers have continued operations throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. What can we learn from them?  

Establish a COVID-19 task force: Together team members will determine the policies and distribute the responsibilities. Each facility will need to do a risk assessment to determine their vulnerabilities and exposures, and to determine how best to mitigate the risks. The task force typically includes the top manager, department heads, human resources, health and safety, and maintenance workers. Task force members should meet regularly to stay on top of the situation and any new problems that arise. 

Re-establish a means of communication and training: Training will be necessary to share essential information with employees and to train them to work safely. Determine how training will be delivered without breaking social distancing requirements.

Control entry to your facility: Every person who enters your facility carries some risk. Severely restrict entries by holding virtual or phone meetings when possible. Plan for staggered arrival of employees and when they arrive, there should be daily screening. Typically, employees are to take their own temperature within the hour before starting work or receive a temperature check upon arrival. (This may require you to purchase reusable forehead strips or a touch-free thermometer and to have all employees arrive via one entry.) Temperatures over 100.4F (some states say 99.5F) should result in a denial of entry or removal from the facility.

Commonly, employees are asked a few screening questions upon arrival such as: Do you have a fever, aches or pains, a sore throat, or a cough? Have you been exposed to anyone believed to have COVID-19 or exhibiting the symptoms of COVID-19?  

Develop a COVID-19 policy: A policy should be clear cut, and available for all employees to read.  The policy must establish protocols to keep employee health information confidential and spell out how management will respond in various scenarios such as:

  • When an employee becomes sick while at work.
  • If an employee needs to stay home to take care of children who are not in school or a family member who is ill.
  • What if an employee has potentially been exposed to a person with COVID-19?

Understand clearly when OSHA wants COVID-19 incidents recorded on the 300 log and when they require direct reporting within 8 or 24 hours. Consider the need to temporarily revise your travel policies. Your lunchrooms and break rooms should no longer be used as areas to congregate. Employees may be encouraged to eat outside, in their cars, at their desk, or elsewhere.  Ensure that employees do not gather near the main entrance, time clocks, bathrooms, and other locations.  Identify any areas where work does not allow for 6-feet of distance and determine how workstations can be modified or how barriers may be erected.  

Write a sanitation and hygiene plan: The EPA has an established list of approved cleaning products.  Determine which touch surfaces must be cleaned and how often.  Aim for daily cleaning or at the end of each shift.  Ensure that adequate supplies of sanitizer, wipes, hand soap and paper towels are available.  Prop doors open (except fire doors) to eliminate the need for touching handles.  Determine what PPE will be required, and ensure you have an adequate supply.  Employees should not shake hands or share pens, cell phones, laptops, etc. Posters and signs reminding employees to wash hands and maintain social distance are also recommended.

Many COVID-19 resources such as webinars, training PowerPoints, and templates are available on the AFS website at: Now is the time to prepare so you can return to full operations as soon as it is safe to do so.    

Click here to see the article in the May 2020 digital edition.