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Pandemic Playbook from Amber Engine: Keeping Your Workers Safe During Covid-19

Furniture World News


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The items we see on store shelves are so much more than what they seem. The soft drink we buy isn’t just fizzy refreshment. It’s a carefully balanced concoction of sugars, syrups and flavorings - a bottle, cap, protective ring, label and glue. To arrive at the store, thousands of individuals had to create, package and ship the raw ingredients, then assemble, package and ship said product. Which of these workers are “essential” and which are “non-essential”? And, more importantly, are they safe when arriving at their “essential” job?

Many workers report feeling scared and unsafe going to work. And, in areas like Chicago, they’re asking for more. The Chicago Workers Collaborative circulated a petition for improved health measures, like the removal of biometric clocks. These clocks use a fingerprint to clock an employee in and out of their shift. With hundreds of employees using the same clock and no nearby hand sanitization options in place, people are at risk.

In your own facility, it’s imperative to see this issue from the human-level – not as the organization. Many employees have small children or elderly parents living at home with them. To take coronavirus home would be a nightmare – especially when a few operational and cleaning adjustments could significantly decrease exposure.

The CDC points to a few key safety measures that furniture suppliers can put into practice if they are to continue operations, including:

·  Mandatory sanitization breaks to clean machinery, workstations and self

·  Properly fitted masks

·  6-ft distancing between workers

·  Pre-screening for sickness and fever at the beginning of each shift.

In an interview with ProPublica, Mark Denzler, president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association said, “We understand the fear that’s going on.”

He also noted that some employers are switching to a split shift model whereby one group of 100-workers split into two 50-worker shifts. He also mentioned that in some factories, facilities are propping doors open so workers won’t have to touch door handles to reduce cross-contamination. But cleanliness and paid leave aren’t the only concerns.

Although most manufacturing facilities offer paid time off to employees, many choose not to use it. Rather, these workers “bank” their hours to take a pay-out in times of financial distress. It’s easy to see how this type of aversion creates conflict when and if a critical employee falls ill.

To encourage self-quarantining and stay-at-home measures for sick employees in your factory, we turn to Brad Glazer, an attorney in Grand Rapids, MI. In an interview with WOODTV, he advised all to consider 3 tools in every worker’s toolbox:

1.      Emergency Paid Sick Leave

2.     Family Medical Leave

3.     Unemployment Insurance

While each of the three protections offers its own set of benefits and consequences, all are viable options for employees. Of course, if your business can offer additional benefits, it’s important to consider it from a humble, honest and human place.

If top-level executives are able to take salary cuts to ensure fundamental workers still receive a paycheck, it may be worth sacrificing a little comfort in the name of an easier transition when it’s time to go back to work. In doing so, you’re deepening the loyalty and trust of your most important people. And, as you well know, happy workers who feel valued do more.

Although overwhelming and, sometimes, confusing, it’s important that manufacturers stay on top of state and federal developments regarding the novel coronavirus. Not only will information on stay-at-home measures help you construct a plan for coming fully on-line when the event is over, but it also helps you track business tax breaks, loans and other resources.

During this time, more than ever, it’s important that employers take care to communicate clearly with workers. Ensure that those impacted by changes in staffing, sanitation efforts or workforce adjustments fully understand all available options. Whether someone is ill, taking care of a sick family member or unemployed due to lack of work they deserve to know about the options and protections available. It’s best to deliver information with the same tone of kindness and compassion you would want for yourself if found in a similar situation.

 

See the previous post in this series, click here.


About Amber Engine: Amber Engine’s innovative software solutions simplify work and empower people. The company offers full-service e-commerce solutions for furniture brands looking to sell in online marketplaces such as Wayfair, Amazon, Houzz, and many more. For more information contact info@amberengine.com or visit the company's website.

 

Furniture Industry News and in depth magazine articles for the furniture retail, furniture manufacturers, and furniture distributors.
Read other articles by Nic Ledoux