Plant Re-Openings after COVID-19 Closures

Tokio Marine America’s mission as a Good Company is to provide Anshin (safety, security and peace of mind) to our clients and the public during these challenging times.

Now that Federal, State, and Local governments are beginning to develop guidelines for business to re-open, employers have to consider how to bring workers back into the workplace safely. Aside from COVID-19 concerns, there are many other considerations when restarting operations after an extended shutdown. This includes checking all facilities, machinery, and equipment to ensure they are in good working order with the required safeguards in place.

Inspect vehicles that have been idle during the shutdown to ensure they are operational and safe to drive. Test fire protection systems and alarms to ensure they are completely functional. Most importantly, employers must invest time in reacquainting workers with the company safety procedures and practices before work begins. The following paragraphs will offer some suggestions on how to get your employees back to work safely and safe guard your facility during the start-up period.

Workplace Safety Considerations

Management should review and determine key safety concerns and issues for workers when restarting operations. Below are some areas to consider

Preparing and Protecting the Worker

  • Always follow Federal, State, and Local government guidelines for maintaining safe work environments.
  • Re-activate the safety committee and have the committee meet with facility management to discuss strategies for reopening the facility.
  • Review company safety rules and procedures with returning employees prior to the start of operations. Be prepared to address worker concerns and questions.
  • Conduct refresher training and review Job Safety Analysis (JSA) for all high hazard jobs, such as those that involve machine operation, lock out tag out, confined space, chemical handling, working at heights, fork truck operation, etc.
  • Check that all worker PPE, such as safety glasses, hearing protection, head protection, safety footwear, etc. is available to all workers and used properly when production begins.
  • Newly hired employees should go through the company safety orientation and training programs prior to the commencement of work.
  • Pre-production safety meetings should be held with workers before the start of work for each shift.

Preparing and Protecting the Facility – Machinery and Equipment

  • Inspect the premises with an emphasis towards housekeeping and cleanliness. Idle facilities can get dusty during shut down periods, and there may have been no time to clean up debris, dump garbage cans, clean restrooms, clean dust collection systems, clean air filtering systems, etc. prior to the shutdown.
  • Inspect the facility for Life Safety items such as clear fire exits, operational exit signs and emergency lighting. In addition, consider checking clear access to fire extinguishers, electrical panels and eyewash stations. Also, check interior and exterior lighting.
  • Facility Maintenance and Production Personnel should inspect all machinery for proper and functioning safeguards, such as machine guarding, emergency stop controls, light curtains, pressure mats, treadle guards, etc. Maintenance should ensure that all preventative maintenance is up to date.
  • Facilities Maintenance should inspect electrical, HVAC, waste treatment, and other critical plant equipment prior to start up.
  • Inspect all material handling machinery such as fork trucks, cherry pickers, electric pallet jacks, overhead cranes, etc. to make sure they are working properly.
  • Encourage communication between workers and management so that employees feel comfortable in bringing up potential concerns involving the facility and equipment prior to and after the start-up process begins.

* Document all machinery inspections and maintenance performed.

Download our free sample equipment maintenance program.

Preparing and Protecting the Facility – Fire and Security Protection Systems

  • Notify your local fire department when you know your company is going back on line.
  • Inspect and test fire protection systems including:
    • Fire Sprinkler System
    • Fire Pump
    • Conduct a two inch drain test and perform Inspector Test Connections on each sprinkler system to test central station alarms and system status.
  • Inspect and test security system
    • Local alarm
    • Central Station alarm
    • Cameras

Download our free resource detailing NFPA requirements for "Fire Sprinkler System Inspection Testing and Maintenance"

Fleet Safety Considerations

  • Inspect company vehicles that have been idle during the operation shutdown to ensure they are in good working order
  • Make sure all vehicle scheduled maintenance has been performed per vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations, and is documented
  • Repair vehicles as needed and document repairs
  • Have drivers review the company fleet safety policy and program.
  • Emphasize key safety program elements such as wearing seat belts, distracted driver policies, defensive driving, accident reporting, etc.

Download our free sample vehicle inspection forms for passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles. Driver safety courses are available for policyholder clients.

COVID-19 Strategy Considerations

  • Remain familiar and comply with all Federal, State, and Local government mandates as related to COVID-19.
  • Limit the number of workers who come to work by allowing those employees that can work from home to continue to do so.
  • Create shift schedules designed to limit the number of employees working in the facility at any one time. For example, create Day 1/Day 2 schedules or Week 1/Week 2 schedules where half of the employees work on the Day 1 or Week 1 schedules and the other half work on the Day2 of Week 2 schedules. Also consider flexible work hours.
  • Assure that your facility cleaning service can properly sanitize your work areas. Consider increasing the frequency of the cleaning service.
  • Coach all employees on COVID-19 recommended controls to ensure employees remain safe and virus free:
    • Promote personal hygiene such as hand washing and not touching one’s face.
    • Provide hand sanitizing products that are labelled 60% alcohol or higher.
    • Practice social distancing – the current strategy is to remain at least six feet apart.
    • Consider floor labeling to assist in social distancing (Ex., install directional arrows to indicate one way aisle flow to minimize workers passing by each other. Provide floor markers or decals to remind workers to stand six feet apart from others and between work areas.)
    • Review and organize breaks and meal times so that employees can maintain social distancing.
    • Consider having employees use protective facemasks when at work that cover the nose and mouth.
    • Consider having employees wear protective gloves where and when it is safe to do so.
    • Instruct workers to routinely clean their workstations and frequently touched surfaces and objects.
    • Instruct workers to report any safety and health concerns.
    • Instruct workers to report illness and to stay home if they are not feeling well. If they suspect COVID-19, they should call their doctor and isolate themselves from others within their household. At this point, they should follow the instructions from their doctor.

Coronavirus Prevention in the Workplace

Our policyholders can view a 20-minute training course that helps workers understand SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) and how to prevent spread during work and home life. Workers will be able to identify general preventive measures for virus transmission, as well as strategies to prevent the spread of disease in the workplace.

For more information on SafetySkills and how to access this valuable resource, please go to the Tokio Marine America/eSafety website and complete the Contact Information form at the bottom of the webpage. Please indicate your interest in the "Coronavirus Prevention in the Workplace" course in the additional information comment field, and the number of employees to be trained. A loss control consultant will contact you to discuss the next steps to access the SafetySkills LMS.

Helpful Resources

Below are links to websites that have useful information for employers, including Simple Safety Coach, American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), National Safety Council (NSC), and other sources for reference:

About Tokio Marine America

Our Loss Control Department’s mission is to assist our policyholders in their efforts to maintain a safe and healthy workplace, and to deliver cost sensitive solutions in an effort to maintain profitability.

With over a 100-year history in the U.S., Tokio Marine America (TMA) offers tailored products to a diverse range of customers – from small to large-sized global businesses seeking traditional multi-line coverage, to larger private and public companies requiring full risk management solutions. Our commitment to providing the highest level of service is paramount. More than 93% of our customers recommend TMA based on our superior claims service. TMA is one of only three insurers with an A++ (Superior) XV rating from A.M. Best. With a solid foundation of financial stability, our strength lies in understanding your business and working in partnership to exceed your expectations.

By offering fully integrated solutions to meet our customer’s needs, we endeavor to deliver ANSHIN – safety, security and peace of mind to all our customers.

Tokio Marine America (TMA) is the marketing name for Tokio Marine America Insurance Company (TMAIC).