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How manufacturing businesses are returning to work

Volkswagen, the world’s largest car manufacturer, recently celebrated the re-opening of its largest plant, in Wolfsburg, by projecting a cartoon of a VW logo flattening coronaviruses. They’re one of many manufacturers relieved to be re-opening after surviving limited or zero production in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the latest COVID-19 Manufacturing Monitor published by Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation, more than one in five manufacturing companies in the UK were forced to furlough up to half their staff during lockdown. 

In that time, a few companies across Europe, such as Zara, Nivea and Dyson, were able to stay active by producing thousands of ventilators to treat patients who develop respiratory problems. Other companies, such as Barbour, Burberry and Sofas by Saxon, produced personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers.

Man working

For most manufacturing businesses, however, the coronavirus left them dangling precariously over the edge of an abyss, unsure of the future and longing for the day they could get back to safe ground. 

In many countries, that time is now. With restrictions easing across the globe, manufacturers are either preparing to welcome employees back or have already done so, with health and safety of those employees, customers and the community the top priority. But how are they doing it?

Re-opening safely after lockdown

Ford, the multinational automaker, produced a 64-page ‘coronavirus playbook’ and circulated it to all of its global sites before re-opening in May 2020. The playbook included a set of Ford global standards on social distancing and employee health and safety actions. The company also provided employees with ‘care kits’ that included disposable face masks, a reusable thermometer and other hygiene items.

The face masks were required for anyone entering a facility where social distancing measures couldn’t be met. A body temperature check and a wellness self-assessment at the beginning of every shift confirmed employee fitness and ability to work. Areas on site were redesigned to ensure social distancing guidelines were maintained, while a phased return to work was hoped to reduce the number of people in offices and on production lines.


Changing how people move and work in your facility to comply with social distancing guidelines is one of many new challenges that manufacturers face.

Stay the distance with smart hygiene solutions

With so many employees and visitors on site, pathogens and microorganisms are easily transmitted to people and inanimate surfaces, such as counter tops, cubicle commodities and door handles. One of the biggest high-risk areas for any business is the washroom.

Initial has produced a range of smart washroom monitoring solutions. The solutions ensure businesses can improve and maintain hygiene standards while enhancing and exceeding employee expectations. 

Our smart lights indicate to users which cubicles are available and allow businesses to monitor use and regulate the frequency of cleaning accordingly.

Live data offers valuable insights into how your washrooms are being used and can help improve operational efficiency and reduce consumable waste and maintenance requirements. 

To prevent cross-contamination, Initial also provides the following hygiene services:

  • No-touch soap dispensers – minimising the chance of picking up pathogens 
  • Antibacterial soap that kills 99.99% of bacteria 
  • No-touch paper-roll dispensers, paper and linen towel dispensers, and electric air dryers
  • Highly effective hand-sanitising consumables
  • HygienicTouch door handles, antibacterial covers and skins that kill up to 99.99% of bacteria
  • No-touch feminine hygiene units that eliminate physical contact
  • Air purification and odour remediation solutions
  • Floor mats that reduce the transmission of bacteria by up to 80%
floor care

Be more Bentley

Production re-started at Bentley Motors following the implementation of 250 new safety and hygiene measures. The measures were built for seven key areas – prior to leaving home, travel, and entry, preparing for work, work stations, breaks and exiting the site.

The changes included a redesign of the manufacturing facility to allow a two-metre distance between work colleagues, an enhanced cleaning routine, control measures introduced in all catering facilities to limit capacity, allocated distance seating and plastic separation screens, while a new shift pattern was introduced for office-based colleagues.

Workplace hygiene: from offices to the shop floor


manufacturing in a hazmat suit

At BMW, workers are also required to wear masks and keep a safe distance from one another. Even the seating order on BMW factory buses was reassessed – as was the process for entering and exiting them.

Workers have to make sure they’re already wearing their factory clothes when they arrive for their shift, avoiding unnecessary time in changing rooms, while designated pathways on site have been altered to ensure one-way traffic only. This significantly reduces the number of people employees come into contact with during the working day.

EHS Today, the leading US magazine for environmental, health and safety management professionals in the manufacturing, construction and service sectors, recently published an article on what employers need to do to re-open post-COVID-19, suggesting the following requirements.

  • If an employee tests positive, additional cleaning and disinfection procedures will be necessary.
  • Closing certain urinals in the restroom to create adequate distance between individuals.
  • Limit one person to a vehicle, if possible.
  • Forbid the sharing of headsets, refrigerators, microwaves, computers, tools and other equipment.
  • Install barriers where people have to meet to talk and exchange documents or materials.

If an infected person has been on site, it’s important that you decontaminate as a precautionary measure. Disinfection solutions from our sister company, Rentokil, ensure high levels of hygiene. 

Manufacturing businesses that use vehicles will also need to make sure their people and those who depend on their services are protected. Services such as touchpoint cleaning, internal fogging and spray-and-wipe-downs have been designed to reduce cross-contamination. Here’s why transportation disinfection is essential during the COVID-19 pandemic.

emergency vehicle

Every 60 seconds, a working adult touches as many as 30 objects that may be contaminated by bacteria or viruses causing infectious disease. 

(Dr Charles Gerba, University of Arizona)

Our disinfection services sanitise touchpoints, surfaces, equipment and floors with solutions that can kill up to 99.99% of bacteria and viruses. Our qualified technicians work quickly, safely and effectively to deliver a legally compliant service tailored to your business needs.

Other Workplace Concerns post-COVID-19

It’s important to consider adding no-touch technology to areas beyond the washroom and using materials that are less hospitable to microbes. Our serviced floor mats capture up to 80% of the microorganisms before they’re spread through the building and, as previously mentioned, HygienicTouch door handles use silver ion technology to kill 99.99% of bacteria deposited on the handle’s surface by people’s hands.

Have you considered indoor air hygiene?

Last but not least, don’t forget that walls, doors and windows that protect us from the elements could also be an entry point for air pollutants. This could result in indoor air that’s up to five times more polluted than outdoor air and can spread infection and disease. 

Our air hygiene solutions are expertly designed to reduce cross-contamination throughout your facility.

Our business is to get you back to business

At Initial, we understand the importance of protecting your people from the risks of poor hygiene in difficult times. Our award-winning integrated solutions will help to take care of your people and safeguard your business, so, if you’re looking to re-open, get in touch with our team today.

Facing the challenges of hygiene with confidence

Hygiene services for your business

Initial provides a wide range of highly effective hygiene solutions to protect your business and keep your customers safe.

  • Innovative hygiene solutions that are tailored to your business needs
  • An award-winning range of hand soaps and sanitisers to suit multiple preferences and needs
  • Ultraprotect sprays and wipes that offer up to 24 hours protection.
Find out more

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