As summer starts to set in and balmy temps get the air conditioning cranking, it’s a good time to take a look at your HVAC system to make sure that it’s operating at peak performance. As you probably know, your HVAC system does far more than cool the air and provide comfort. Your HVAC system also plays a critical role in purifying the air inside your facility to keep all that walk through your doors healthy, productive, and safe.
As more and more facilities begin to ramp up their reopening processes following the shutdowns created by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is a great time to review best management practices for our workplaces so that we can help make them safer and healthier areas to work and thrive. The following is a start to that conversation, but is in no way an exhaustive list. If you have ideas on this subject, please feel encouraged to share. We are all in this together as we navigate the new landscape of operations in this historic period.
1. Inspect And Maintain HVAC Equipment
HVAC systems play a vital role in preventing the spread of viruses within your facility by keeping the air filtered and clean. If there has ever been a time to change filters and perform necessary maintenance on your system, this is it. And beyond helping with this very important safety standard, establishing a contract with a trusted service partner will help keep your system operating efficiently for years to come so that you get as much life out of this investment as you possibly can. It’s a smart move for right now, and it’s a smart move for the future.
Furthermore, proper indoor air purity can only really be achieved by having someone who has the expertise to know exactly what they’re looking at and how to make just the right adjustments. Your HVAC system is a complex piece of machinery with many working parts that must all be calibrated perfectly for the proper overall performance of the unit. From maximizing system controls, to filtration optimization, coil cleanliness, and prospective UV light installation, an expert service provider will make multiple, precisely calculated adjustments to keep the HVAC system under your employ running at its best. So make the move to enlist the help of an expert. It will be worth it. Discomfort and unhealthy environments lead to lack or halt of productivity. Right? Right.
2. Prioritize Housekeeping
Seems silly, but seriously, take a look around. We’ve toured many a manufacturing plant and have been impressed by the progress made with regard to cleanliness initiatives, but let’s be real here, shop floors by and large are often quite messy, cluttered, and unorganized. It’s a product of the constant “go-go-go” motion of the daily grind. We all know messy work areas lead to messy organizational impressions, and when things are in a state of disarray, accidents happen. Furthermore, the general state of clutter and messiness can lead to other detrimental health risks. Keep the aisles, walkways, workstations, and heck, even the breakroom clean and free from objects and equipment that may cause slips, falls, fires, and other preventable accidents.
3. Require Workers To Wear The Necessary Safety Gear
Yes, there’s been a lot talk about face masks and gloves lately. And rightfully so. For us in the manufacturing space, proper safety gear and accessories has long been a part of our lives. However, as we all know, it isn’t always enforced as well as it probably should be. OSHA has made it mandatory for metal workers to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, safety hoods, non-slip shoes, earplugs, hard hats, respirators, and full body suits. While not everyone on the shop floor, or walking around the facility, needs to wear all of these items, at the very least, you ought to consider prioritizing masks, safety glasses, hearing protection, and maybe even gloves – especially given the current climate of potential day-to-day virus spread.
4. Ensure Proper Installation Of Machine Guarding Mechanisms
If the equipment around your facility isn’t designed to ensure mechanical workplace safety, we’d love to hear why… or even, how. It’s the name of the game. Modern machinery come equipped with gates and guards right out of the box almost entirely across the board. They’re there for a reason – to save fingers, limbs, and lives. If the gates and guards on your equipment are worn or fitting loosely, it’s time to pay them some attention. A little TLC can go a long way towards the safety of those utilizing the equipment.
Similarly, more so than ever, the area around the actual workstation should be protected using guardrails and barriers, allowing only qualified workers to enter the area. Further, we’ve seen and heard of an uptick in clear plastic barrier fittings to help prevent the spread of airborne pathogens. You’ve likely seen them too – they’ve become more commonplace not only in the manufacturing industry, but in service industry applications such as point of sale stations in grocery stores and pharmacies.
5. Ensure Proper Installation Of Machine Guarding Mechanisms
We understand that space is often limited and has to be optimized. After all, every square foot of shop space is an operating expense. We’ve recently heard from several shops that are reimagining their shop floors and laying things out to correspond with the whole “six feet of distance” rule that exists in the concept of “social distancing.” Although this is a new and unique challenge for us all to tackle, it is also an opportunity. While you’re moving things around, think about your space.
Think about how things exist on your floor and how you can reposition the machines and tools around the shop to facilitate better worker safety and work flow. It’s not always easy, but it’s also not impossible. And if there are opportunities to make the space more ergonomic or just plain more pleasant for your workforce, then you may see some nice rewards for your hard work.
6. Deliver Consistent And Proper Training To Employees
Chances are high that the level of expertise each of your employees has differs from the next. From shop rookies to seasoned, decades-long veterans, every shop has many stories. It’s worth stating that the number of years put in doesn’t necessarily mean much when we think about the different technologies and best practices that are ever changing day in and day out. Thus, a proper, consistent training regimen should be instilled to not only keep the education of your workforce sharp, but also, to make proof positive that safety is fully realized. Because if our workers aren’t up to snuff on the current goings on in the manufacturing world, safety could very well be jeopardized at the operative level. It’s true.
A misuse of tools and/or machinery, or the lack of general expertise can cause serious accidents. So, as mentioned, proper training should be provided, enabling workers to use the tools as they are meant to be used to facilitate safe and efficient manufacturing processes.
In parting, we’ll wrap this up in one powerful question: what are you doing to ensure safety within your workplace each and every day? The answer certainly isn’t one size fits all, but we can sure come to agreement that things can – more often than not – be improved upon. For the betterment of your staff, visitors, customers, and overall business practice, it’s a question worth mulling over.