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keeping your workforce safe


Like many of you I assume, my shop is under a stay at home order and we are currently not operating. This will change in the weeks ahead, and we will have to get back to work. While I sit here alone trying to gather information for the inevitable return to work, I am faced with how to keep my work force safe, and maybe just as important, FEELING safe in the weeks and months ahead. The fact of the matter is, until a vaccine is available or herd immunity becomes sufficient, this virus will be with us.

In our local news today, we had a choir group get hit hard. This was 2 or 3 weeks ago when everyone was being cautious but not panicked. They considered cancelling, but ended up practicing anyway. A doctor and a nurse were part of the group and despite there being 50 members present, they spaced themselves as best they could. By all accounts, not a single person coughed or sneezed. Nobody was known to be carrying the virus at that time. Over 30 became sick. This virus is airborne, just like the common cold.

In national news today, I saw the first article confirming it. They're testing the air outside of hospital rooms containing COVID-19 patients and the virus is being detected in the air.

Yesterday I had decided on the following safety measures:

-Everybody in at 6am, then the doors are locked. Nobody else in. All vendors, truck drivers etc will need to stay outside.
-Every morning, again at break, again at lunch and again at afternoon break I will arm everybody with a squirt bottle of bleach and some paper towels and we will clean every single door knob, toilet handle and common surface in the place (chop saw switches, table saw cranks, etc).
-no sharing of hand tools
-separated work spaces and social distancing per the recommended 6'
-Wash hands regularly

Today, despite dis-information to the contrary, I am convinced that the best measure against the virus is the use of N95 masks. I believe them when they say the masks don't prevent the air from getting in, but I also believe it captures the particles from going out, which is just as important. I'm also sensitive to the fact that N95 masks are in short supply. We have 20 left and 12 employees. So today I researched how to sterilize and re-use N95 masks because the likelihood is we won't be able to get more for several months. Research indicates baking them for 30 minutes in a 200 degree oven (the lowest setting at typical home oven has) will kill the virus and not damage the mask.

There's more I could do. We have 7 doors and 5 bathrooms. We could designate doors and bathrooms. We could split the shift to create more social distancing. As a worse case, we could alternate 2 week furloughs letting the virus materialize in anyone who might come down with it. But it seems to me, the mask is the key.

Any other opinions on this? What are you guys contemplating to keep your employees safe?

4/1/20       #2: keeping your workforce safe ...
james e mcgrew  Member

Website: mcgrewwoodwork.com

Well written and I Appreciate this, We have Been home since last wednesday, We have clients wanting Us to proceed and I told them next wednesday which will be 14 days.

The practices you mentioned are the ones we have used so far.

On a Positive note being home like this has exposed me to retirement life and it looks pretty good at this point. I have been able to catch up on so much neglected homework ignorred due to my chosen profession. no worrys still got a few years before that happens.

I hope you do not mind but i have copied your text and would like to use it as a quote to my Employees with your permission, let me know.

4/1/20       #3: keeping your workforce safe ...


You may copy whatever you like from my post, we all need to share as much information as we can.

Take care,

4/1/20       #4: keeping your workforce safe ...
james e mcgrew  Member

Website: mcgrewwoodwork.com

Thank You !

4/1/20       #5: keeping your workforce safe ...

Interesting post, I have read a lot as well and most say it is in the air? But not for long, it is apparently not spread like measles where it floats around in the air. If it does it is only a matter of time before it is spread as a lot of people donít wear N95Ēs properly or there are also different levels of quality, some seal and fit a lot better than others.

If the virus is like what most think and spreads from coughing, sneezing and talking , flies through the air for 3 ft and eventually falls on the floor or your table saw or whatever. For this you would have to treat and solve the problem as you mentioned.

I think you want to treat your shop just like a hazardous materials event. The outside world is the hot zone. Anytime your employees come in I would decontaminate them, put them in disposable coveralls or even make them have a shower and change their clothes.

As you mention all deliveries and visitors would only be allowed into one area or drop stuff outside in one area, depending on what it was it would also have to be decontaminated.

The inside of your shop would need to be sanitized well throughput the shift.

It is a lot of extra work but it is about the best you can do as it seems the virus is spread when people are not showing symptoms.

One of the doctors from the WHO went to Wuhan China when they were in the thick of it and said he was diligent in wearing ppe, washing and following the recommendations and he was fine, ideally N95, safety glasses and gloves are the ppe worn by first responders, that would also work in your shop, but as you mentioned ppe is impossible to come by.

Maybe you can buy a bunch of the 3m or whatever brand you use, canister type respirators and put the hepa filters on them. They can be cleaned every day.

4/1/20       #6: keeping your workforce safe ...
Alan  Member

I am glad to see at least some in the industry are talking about COVID and what to do about it. At our shop, the mentality of owners seams to be "hopefully it won't happen us." They haven't really mentioned it. The bench carpenters like me are still expected to work 40 hrs a week in the shop. One guys is out sick, so if he has it, we all will. There are 20 people in the front office who could easily be working from home at least, but they are also still coming to work on there office computer vs. their computer at home. A computer model can show you that you can blow your hand off playing with gun powder, but many don't want to believe it until they look down and see some fingers missing, and others hanging on by a thread.

4/2/20       #7: keeping your workforce safe ...
james e mcgrew  Member

Website: mcgrewwoodwork.com

This morning A CPA I do business with posted this.. Read it as you cannot fix Stupid.

"In light of the contagious coronavirus outbreak, we have temporarily closed the office and have made arrangements to continue doing work remotely and in the office. We tried to keep the office open with signs outside asking people not to enter the office if they were sick or running a fever. Unfortunately, that didn't work. We have had people ignoring the signs entirely coming in sick who said they were running fevers. We even had one gentleman come in who was not a customer who needed help with 1099s.....fresh off a plane from the UK.

So, we had to lock down the office and are now asking everyone to drop off their records by placing them through the mail slot in the front door. We have provided envelopes outside to place your documents in."

4/2/20       #8: keeping your workforce safe ...
Bob Member

Wearing gloves does absolutely nothing in this situation. The gloves would get contaminated just like your hands will. Whether the virus is on your bare hands or the gloves they will spread the virus equally.

4/17/20       #9: keeping your workforce safe ...
Kenny Member

We are still considered essential in our area and have taken the steps mentioned above and we also acquired a temporal thermometer which we use to take temperatures of everyone in the morning and the evenings.

4/24/20       #10: keeping your workforce safe ...
harold morantz

Website: http://morantzcustomcabinets.com

We are considerd essential here in south florida. i have 4 employees and 5200sqft. they are each working on their own projects and i provide masks, gloves and purell.
We have 5 smaller projects completed in shop that we cannot deliver as thry are for condos in miasmi beach, which are all in lockdown. we are buiding cabinetry for 6 new spec homes in 2-3million range that are all italian panels with no spraying. even on install there are two guys putting in kitchen and other two are installing individual vanities. offered them option of closing, but they want to work. these guys are responsible middle age guys who understand that if thery are not well, they dont come in. so far so good.

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