Automotive Restart – Employee Safety

The last of our Automotive Restart series looks at the biggest challenge – Employee Safety and how an organization plans for implementing a work environment that will minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  Making the safety and health of your employees a priority will ensure that you have the skilled workforce needed to help your business recover.

Much has been written about the requirements for social distancing, wearing proper PPE and individual hygiene.  These techniques have been implemented to minimize a person’s exposure to the virus.  The automotive supplier industry has challenges to address.  Given the work cell layouts, consecutive shift schedules, break schedules, and social gathering areas (such as smoking area, restrooms, locker rooms, cafeterias); social distancing may be a difficult issue.  Also, consider the lack of PPE and sanitation chemicals in the general marketplace.  These issues will need to be the top priority of the restart, from both a safety and a liability standpoint.  Implementing policies and ensuring enforcement of those policies will be a very important activity.

Also, consider the visitors you will have at your site (truck drivers, material stockers, vendor representatives, auditors, customers).  What are the policies for your organization’s visitors and how will those policies be enforced?

Interested parties (regulatory entities, OEMs, large tier one suppliers) have been developing procedures and policies to help ensure employee safety, such as:

  1. State developed employee safety and health requirements (reference State of Ohio responsible restart procedures.)
  2. Large Tier one developed procedures shared through the industry (reference Lear “Safe Work Playbook 2nd edition.)
  3. OEM consideration and feedback (reference Automotive News April 27,2020 “Production Restart May Spur Liability Issues-Worker Safety is Key, Toyota Executive Says”)

Consider the following ISO 9001 and IATF 16949 requirements, as well as risk mitigation and management, when thinking about employee safety and organizational policies:

  1. ISO 9001 7.1.4-Environment requirements include hygiene
  2. IATF section 5.1.1.1-The corporate responsibilities and policies need to be defined and employees need to be aware
  3. ISO 9001 5.3-defining organizational responsibility for the newly revised safety and work policies
  4. Consider an organizational metric or KPI based upon the newly implemented or revised work rules to measure compliance and work on limiting liabilities based upon non-compliance to the rules.

Other resources include:

CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses & Employers

OSHA 3990 Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19

AIAG offers a free webinar on “Operational Restart Readiness for the Automotive Supply Chain.” The 45-minute recording addresses key manufacturing topics to consider for resuming operations after a partial or complete shutdown. Also available is their free Automotive Operational Restart Readiness Checklist.

Our simpleQuE team has assembled a list of Resources that covers Business Continuity, Health, Safety, Tools and Checklists.  We hope these resources and articles have provided some value to your organization as the automotive restart moves forward. 

SimpleQuE strives to be an informational source that provides value to our customers by examining some of the challenges identified by the automotive industries and provide insight into the IATF 16949 requirements to help your organization maintain compliance during this unusual and complex time. 

This series of articles was written for simpleQuE by Robert (Bob) Dornhecker, a simpleQuE consultant who specializes in ISO 9001 and IATF 16949 quality system development, auditing and training. He also performs third party audits for Certification Bodies including Eagle Certification Group. With over 30 years of combined experience in auditing, manufacturing and certification, Bob has an extensive quality background.  Additionally, he has taught and facilitated many quality related training classes for clients and has provided support to companies securing their own ISO/Quality Management Systems certifications.

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