While a recent headline-grabbing Forbes article may have caused some concern (“Researchers Say Social Distancing To Prevent Coronavirus May Need To Continue Until 2022”), many manufacturers are now planning to return to “Business as (the New) Normal.”  During the last two months, I have been fielding calls from essential manufacturers on how to conduct business and meet ever-changing standards and directives.  More recent calls focus on non-essential manufacturers planning for their eventual return.

While we may not know precisely when manufacturers will return to work in large numbers, we know that will happen in the not-so-distant future.  But because mandated safety rules currently differ by state, resuming business may be complicated.  Assembly lines and processes may have to be redesigned.  PPE and face-masks may have to be distributed to all workers.  Distribution streams may have to be adjusted.  Re-inventing these tasks may take a good deal of planning.  Given the rapidly evolving standards, and the reality that a manufacturer’s actions will be judged in the perfect vision of 20-20 hindsight, bringing workers back safely may be one of the more complicated tasks.

The Governors of California, New York and Connecticut, along with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, have publish some good materials on worker and public safety which may be looked on with favor down the road.  You may access them here:  California, New York, Connecticut and the CDC (How to Protect Yourself and Others and  Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19).

I am an eternal optimist, so I believe manufacturers may wish to start thinking about the ramp-up and return to normal now.  One positive first step would be to form planning committees composed of key stakeholders:  business officials, loss prevention managers, human resources experts and qualified legal counsel.

I’ll share more thoughts on this complex topic in the weeks to come.