Fourstar Connections Blog

Manufacturing Strategies for Employee Safety During COVID-19

Posted by Tom Barczak on Apr 30, 2020 4:04:56 PM

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Facing the Challenge with Safe Solutions

The Fourstar team, first and foremost, is grateful to be working and productive during the relative standstill we presently call life. As an essential business, we’re proud that we are, among our other ongoing projects, an integral supply chain partner for COVID-related test equipment. To keep our dedicated workforce safe while we do everything we can to contribute to the greater safety of our community, we have established many health and safety guideline while we work through this pandemic. An element of this that isn’t in a checklist—and we’ve created a number of these to address the current COVID-related procedural changes we’ve made in our facility—concerns the emotional well-being of our co-workers. We talk with them, we work beside them (safe-distanced, of course), we clean up areas together, and talk about the fears and hopes we have, looking for the new normal to present itself with some sense of order. Cleaning, discussing ideas, such as food home-delivery services, and making and sharing PPE for their families are some of the elements we can control, which makes the shared experience more bearable. 

Other ways employees contribute directly to the efforts include making our own disinfectant wipes with alcohol and 4x4” gauze pads—we use some in the facility and send some home with the employees. We also sit one person per table at lunch and everyone disinfects the tables after use for the next person.    

Fourstar-COVID-Prep-500pxl   Fourstar management team keeping it clean! From left to right, Don Glencross, Nelson Medeiros, and Tom Barczak remain in the plant working with the production team during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Workday To-Do Lists

We’ve made provisions for those who can work from home to do so; and have advised some folks in certain categories to stay at home. Along with maintaining open communication with employees about any signs of illness—good news on all fronts as of this posting—we have initiated the following safety procedures. Fourstar has done the following:

  • In addition to the recently increased number of hand sanitizer stations inside the company at every bathroom, entranceway, eating area, and select common work areas, we have added more stations around the manufacturing floor.
  • We have added guidance for virus control on our digital communication displays inside the company.
  • We’ve retrofitted touch-free paper towel dispensers at all areas of the company.
  • Antibacterial wipes have been deployed in key areas of the company to clean door handles, keypads, and common tooling and equipment.
  • There are ample supplies of tissues and other sanitary products for employees in various locations in the company.

Long-Term Strategies

We’ve also implemented strategies for working models to help cope with the possible long-term conditions of the COVID-19 situation. Part of this involves remaining current by reviewing CDC and our insurance carrier’s recommendations for evolving best practices.

  1. Employee return-to-work confirmation: If someone has been out of work—for whatever reason—we have a documented procedure to follow to confirm their health, along with family members, or others they may have been in touch with who have tested positive for the virus.
  2. Spacing at work centers: We have spaced out employees with designated workspaces. Employee names are assigned to the tables for identification.
  3. Cafeteria table designation: The cafeteria tables are numbered, and employees are assigned to tables to contain possible cross-contamination. 
  4. Update cleaning volunteers list: We keep track of cleaning schedules, noting who cleaned what area when. 
  5. Supplies: We have a designated someone to manage and maintain enough supplies to continue the robust cleaning and safety program. All of the related supplies are documented and tracked. They include masks, gloves, face shields, sanitizer, disinfectant, thermal temperature guns, along with other cleaning supplies.
  1. Shipping department restriction on entry of non-employees into the building: We’ve instituted a drop-off only policy and have a regular cleaning schedule for disinfecting door handles, packages (including a holding area), and the general area. Any employees are required to wash their hands before leaving the area or after interacting with deliveries. 
  1. Vending machine and medical cabinet stocking to cease for a period of time:
    1. Bring your own snack
    2. No snacks/food in the work areas
    3. Medical cabinet to be refilled only as needed
    4. Single-bottle water usage implemented (replacing bulk water coolers)
  1. Social spacing, PPE, and good hygiene are strictly enforced; co-workers understand and appreciate the oversight for everyone’s safety:
    1. Ongoing review if we need changes to cafeteria layout or capacity
    2. Remind people on-the-spot about spacing during interactions
    3. Remind people about touching their face
    4. Remind people to wear their PPE at all times
    5. Masks required before entering the building
    6. Temperature gun used daily at the start of the day as employees arrive for work
    7. Employees encouraged to disinfect hands immediately after entering the building
    8. Disinfect outside of microwaves and tables before each use
    9. Clean hands before and after eating
  1. Suspended hand-scanner for timeclock: We might eliminate this entirely, moving forward.
  2. Semi-weekly updates to the employees: Keeping everyone informed allows us to all remain on the same page and ask questions and receive support as needed. 

Feeling ProudFourstar COVID TY

As VP of Operations, the task falls on me and my management team members—Nelson Medeiros, Production Manager, and Don Glencross, Quality Assurance Manager, who are beside me and all our staff on the production floor during this pandemic—to keep everyone as safe as possible. What I can tell you most assuredly, is that I’ve never been so proud of everyone at Fourstar … and I constantly see, and am reminded of, the best in everyone. 

Fourstar COVID Thank You for Helping [2]

Many employees were caught off guard when this pandemic first began, and many do not have a lot of protection at home—but what extra they do have, they gladly share. Some folks are sewing large quantities of masks and distributing to friends and family. We have also done extensive training on how to wear a mask: putting it on and taking it off properly. We train the same way with gloves and have separate trash bins for gloves and masks. We tell each other when we are too close and to, “Stop touching your face.” Just like friends or family would do for each other.  

The card you see here is from a local assisted living home, Corcoran House, sending thanks for a collective effort to provide front-line workers with masks and face shields. Like I said, we're seeing the best in everyone. 

My job these days is that—now, more than ever—I work for my co-workers, not them for me. And we’re all proud to be here working … for you.

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Topics: Social Responsibility, Interconnect Solutions, Electronic Manufacturing Service Provider, Fourstar Coronavirus Update

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