Welcome to “Ask Deb from QA,” a new column from MxD.
Every week, Deb from QA — with decades of experience on the factory floor — will answer your questions to demystify and explain the digital manufacturing industry.
Please submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Deb from QA: I’ve been called back to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. What can I do to protect myself?
This is the question I’ve heard more than all others combined. It gets asked a lot because there’s not one pat answer, and because there’s so much uncertainty around the virus.
Here’s how I look at it: Unless you’ve locked yourself in the Panic Room or Bio-Dome (both terrible movies, by the way), there is no 100% surefire way to prevent contracting the coronavirus in your workplace. But as we’ve talked about with multi-factor authentication and cybersecurity, it’s all about risk mitigation — in other words, layering many techniques to reduce your risks to as little as possible.
I would take guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Labor. They’ve been really good about providing guidance on preventing the transmission of viruses in the workplace. They offer this handy 10-step poster as well as one for packaging and food processing facilities, which I’ll gladly recap here as public service:
- If you’re sick, stay home. (Goes without saying.)
- If you cough or sneeze, get in the habit of doing so into your elbow.
- If you’re an employer, have places where your employees can wash their hands, or have hand-sanitizers available in the workplace.
- Avoid carpooling, if at all possible.
- If you don’t have to use a colleague’s phone, tool, desk … don’t.
- Regularly disinfect your work surface. (Hopefully your employer has a protocol in place for this).
- Avoid close gatherings with work colleagues during breaks, even if it’s outside.
- Stay at least six feet apart, if at all possible.
- And for crying out loud… wear a mask! I had more to say about that in last week’s column.
As I’ve said before, preventing transmission is a team sport. Many organizations are coming up with new operating rules so their workers can return safely. MxD has a pretty robust new set of office safety procedures, if you’d like to take a look.
If everyone takes precautions, it will help bring down the overall risk. The more we all do our part, the faster we’ll all get back to normal.
Deb from QA wants to hear your questions. Send ‘em to email@example.com and she’ll answer as soon she’s done with her shift.