July 13, 2020
Lack of face-to-face communication necessitates changes.
n response to the global pandemic, it’s vital for chemical manufacturers to maintain production for the good of the economy and society at large while keeping their employees safe from infection. Increased workload caused by greater demands or reduced staffing (or both) means that people have less time to communicate. Employees may be carrying out extraordinary tasks or covering assignments for incapacitated colleagues, making communication that much more important. However, because COVID-19 has brought the need for social distancing to the plant, face-to-face communications have become impossible or difficult at best.
Handling this emergency demands a balanced approach that takes into account hazardous operations, environmental impacts, health and safety aspects, product quality, and long-term consequences on business continuity and profitability.
Despite the pressure to keep production going, a chemical maker must assess how plant operations must change to address the crisis. The company always has the option to shut down the plant if the costs of operating don’t meet the benefits (to worker safety, for example). Prudently maintaining operations requires defining how operating procedures must change and, for instance, balancing the risks of COVID-19 exposure with the process safety of the overall operation.