On March 20, 2020, in light of the Governor of California announcing a Shelter in Place Order, MAPP hosted its first series of regional COVID Crisis Response Virtual Roundtables. During this call, over 50 manufacturers from the state of California joined the call to learn from one another and look for new ideas and best practices in dealing with the new rules in their state. Below is an outline of the topics, questions and suggestions covered during this call.
Governor recommends residents stay at home. How is your organization responding?
- Our company Immediately sent out notice to all facility employees telling them that we are open and until otherwise stated. Personally, I [company president] walked around and talked to everyone, all departments, managers, supervisors, floor personnel – and assured them that for now we are staying open. We are using social distancing, using new sanitization policies, no in-person meetings, etc. We are doing everything we can to explain that safety is still the number one priority.
- We also explained that if you do not feel safe, and you want to stay home (production floor), you have every right to stay at home. But without PTO you won’t be getting paid.
- We did similar things. We posted signs, communicated with all employees, added hand sanitizer at all machines, implemented extra cleaning policies. We are considered essential molder as we are filling orders for parts for coronavirus testing. We hope to stay open for the duration.
- One of our lead supervisors had some concerns and told her she could take time off if she felt strongly about it, but without medical reason, it is without pay, but her job will be here.
- Similar to both – but when we got in today, several supervisors were concerned and we got push back. We are running just the most critical customers (medical & infrastructure) and assembly.
- Technicians are concerned, so we are triaging right now. So far, we’ve had no push back from operators yet. They want to know why we should be open given the governors direction, so we’ve explained that we are an essential business. However, we have fewer people working due to concerns about having more than 10 people in a room and others that are older are concerned about their health. In addition, we sent all temps home as well.
What is the general read on the situation in California, and how can molders overcome the stigma of staying open?
- Here is the scoop – rule says you have to have critical manufacturing, you have to serve one of 16 critical infrastructure sectors (See more from CISA here). Those sectors are:
- Commercial Facilities
- Defense Industrial Base
- Emergency Services
- Financial Services
- Food & Agriculture
- Government Facilities
- Healthcare and Public Health
- Information Technology
- Nuclear Reactors, Materials & Waste
- Transportation Systems
- Water and Wastewater Systems
- The exemption is broad enough that if you have one or two parts that fall under one of these sectors, then by definition that considered critical manufacturing
- If you are solely making parts for cars, or another non-essential (listed above) sector, then you are in a different place, and may need to close your doors.
In terms of overcoming the stigma...
- Repeat the same messaging: we are taking all precautions, if you have concerns come see us, we are providing hand sanitizer, cleaning, etc. You and your leadership team need to be heightened and prepared for them to come with questions.
- Tell employees it’s still safety first and we will do everything we can to promote safety. And you have to accommodate to the best of your ability as an employer.
- Remember, your employees are watching you right now, and they will remember how they were treated during this situation. You don’t want to be seen as a company that doesn’t care about their people. There is a fine balance you will have to strike between reasonable accommodation and not accommodating too much that you are being taken advantage of.
- Essential/Critical Infrastructure on the homeland security site. We have given paperwork for our employees as they are worried about being on the road. The paper says that this document certifies they are essential/critical worker. And we are not in the process of creating a laminated card with address, phone number, critical numbers to be called, etc. that is used to protect workers on the road.
- The California Manufacturing Technology Association website has information on Coronavirus compliance, and you can print the form right from the site:
Currently, we run about 55% Medical, but we run a lot of other products. Do I have to shut down the other product lines?
- There are two approaches to this. The risk-elimination totally approach is only keeping people there that are for the support of the medical part or parts. From the standpoint of auditing your company, that’s probably not going to happen. From a company standpoint approach, you can assume some risk, and continue to operate all your parts as normal, especially if you don’t have the wherewithal to support all the employees while they’re laid off.
- Concept – If you are a critical manufacturer, continue. “Our operations are satisfied as the critical manufacturers component.”
Supplier sent us a brand new federal government policy on leave and sickness (FFA) for manufacturers, even if you are under 50 employees.
- You can access the recorded webinar about this information here. Or join the March 27th Webinar when they go in-depth on this topic.
We are screen employees, visitors and suppliers before they enter the facility. Is this the new standard, including taking temperatures, for manufacturers right now?
- Protect your business & employees by screening. It is standard for many facilities right now.
- Right now, non-contact is okay to take temperatures. However, while your allowed to take temperature, it is recommended to let the employee take their temperature and not the employer so there is never an argument that you are violating HIPAA.
- What temp do you send them home?
- CDC says 100.4 is a major red flag. We do 100.2. Anything over 100 is suspect.
- We are also cleaning doorknobs, desks, chairs, bathrooms, dedicated individuals to keeping everything as disinfected as possible. Coffee pots and areas, fridge, common areas, etc. Anywhere people are crossing paths. Throughout the plant, there is a 6-foot distance policy.
Is it required to receive a letter in order to continue operations, either from CISA or a customer?
- If you qualify, there is no rule that you have to have documentation to continue. No requirement that you have to have proof or a letter from another organization or government body.
- Best Practice: Get a letter from your customer to have on file. But don’t overly stress if you have trouble getting one.
- If you are shutting down: SBA is giving our emergency loans which is low interest, long-term pay. Any size company, just not public can access this. Go online to apply, this can give potential relief to cover cash flow in the next few months.
We are considered an essential company, just verification that if any of our employees decide to take off, they have to take sick days & vacation days, we are not liable for anything past that because we are available to work?
- If you’re an essential employer and they are not exhibiting any kind of sickness, then you are correct.
- If they say, “I’m feeling sick, I could have COVID 19” then its different, and you have to pay.
- Can I require them to have a doctors note?
- In short, no. With the healthcare system running low on supplies and the pressure that’s putting on healthcare personnel, you are likely not going to be able to enforce a doctor’s note. You have to be lenient with doctors’ notes and excuses.
- We are finding that most of the operators and team want to work and they are happy to have their jobs right now.
Additional Best Practices
- One other thing we are doing. We are installing germicidal lights in the main lobby, conference room, break areas, etc. They do not come on when people are present, but they are very powerful. Used in hospital operating rooms. Come on when employees aren’t present, FDA approved, does kill COVID 19, SARS, etc. They are expensive ($2500/pc for smaller ones) but it is something that we are doing and getting those in next week. At least in the morning, we know that the areas are virus-free and just maintaining.
- This is the company we use: www.purolighting.com
- We were able to reach out to Cintas to get cleaning products, hand sanitizer, COVID 19 package, etc. You have to get setup as a customer there, but they are able to supply it to us.