Page updated: January 14, 2022
Coronavirus Disease Info., Resources & Best Practices for the Print Industry
We at PIM are completely focused on finding ways to help our printers stay strong. First of all, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. While we are not experts in many of the topics below, we know the right people and are ready to make the time to help you figure out the next steps. We also compiled this list through hundreds of conversations across our region and throughout the country. Therefore, review and read the following tips. We will continually update this page as needed.
Practical tips for the Print Industry
COVID-19 and the ongoing pandemic affected everyone and seems to have affected everything. We’ve learned about and lived through social Distancing, sanitizer shortages, Zoom calls, Plexiglass barriers, etc. When can we get back to “normal”?
Printers and manufacturers in the United States are committed to ending the pandemic.
As of 1/13/22, the US Supreme Court blocked enforcement of the ETS.
On November 4, 2021, OSHA released a COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). This standard covered all private companies with 100 employees. This would include all printers with at least 100 employees. This ETS has several requirements. These include a written policy, maintain a record and roster of employee’s vaccination status, weekly testing and masks for unvaccinated workers.
What Should You Do?
As of right now, an employer’s best course of action is to continue working on administrative obligations from the ETS. This includes a vaccination roster and COVID-19 Policy.
For a list of all of the requirements and links to sample policies, go to PIM’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing ETS webpage.
COVID-19 Vaccine Guidance from EEOC
Can you require employees to receive a vaccine? Can you give incentives? These issues are addressed in the latest EEOC guidance.
On May 28, the EEOC issued updated and expanded guidance for employers.
The National Law Review summarized this vaccine guidance on four topics.
PIM provides a list of resources for employers and employees about the COVID-19 Vaccine.
Vaccine Resources by state
The Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Connector is a tool for all Minnesotans who have not yet been vaccinated. The Vaccine Connector will notify you when you it’s your turn for a shot. Sign up to be alerted when you when you are eligible to receive a vaccine and get connected to resources to schedule an appointment.
If you have general questions about the vaccine, call 211. Resource specialists are available 24 hours a day to answer basic questions.
To find an Iowa vaccine provider near you.
All Nebraskans are encouraged to register on the Nebraska Vaccine Registration website. People can schedule an appointment or sign up to receive a notification when a vaccine is available for them.
NEBRASKA VACCINE HOTLINE: Nebraskans needing vaccine help by phone can call 402-552-6645 or toll-free at 833-998-2275 for more information on the Nebraska COVID-19 vaccination process.
North Dakota maintains a Vaccine Locator page. Scroll down to see locations and availability of vaccines. Scroll the table to the right to see information on how to contact these locations.
COVID-19 Preparedness Plan
The MN Preparedness Plan requirement expired. A written plan is no longer required. However, Minnesota businesses can meet their obligations to provide a safe workplace by continuing to follow their written COVID-19 Preparedness Plan.
- First, download this Updated (May 2021) COVID-19 Preparedness Plan Template: Word Document | PDF
- In addition, MNOSHA provided a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan Guidelines for Manufacturing.
All MN Employees Need Right to Know Training Annually
Also, because COVID-19 is an infectious agent, all Minnesota businesses need to provide all employees with Right to Know training. PIM can help with this process if desired.
Remember, if you would like any assistance with this new requirement or any other safety issue, contact Paul Gutkowski at email@example.com or Cathy Malinowski at firstname.lastname@example.org. For example, PIM can assist with writing the Plan for your company, conducting the training, obtaining clarification, etc.
Nebraska OSHA recommends that all printers in NE create a COVID-19 Policy. This COVID-19 template for printing companies in Nebraska can assist you. Remember, for the Minnesota printing companies, DO NOT follow this Nebraska template. For further questions regarding the Nebraska safety requirements contact Paul at email@example.com
IA, ND, SD COVID-19 Policy
It is recommended that all printers create a COVID-19 Policy. Manufacturers in these states may adopt a policy based on the Minnesota COVID-19 Preparedness Plan (above) or create their own.
Iowa Business Guidance
The Iowa Department of Public Health compiled resources and guidance documents for Iowa Businesses. Included in these documents are posters and testing guidance. These resources can be found the on the Iowa Department of Public Health COVID-19 webpage.
North Dakota Business Guidance
Face Mask Requirements & Guidelines
All PIM states rescinded their Mask Mandates
Printers can choose to keep mask mandate if they choose
OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS)
All businesses with over 100 employees must ensure that unvaccinated employees wear face masks. This ETS is under review by the Supreme Court on January 7. Stay tuned for updates.
Businesses should update their COVID-19 Preparedness Plan to include face-coverings if required or not. In addition, signs must be posted and visible to all people instructing them to wear face coverings if they are required.
Should employees wear face masks?
First of all, there is a difference between face masks (source control) and respirators (PPE). Face masks or surgical masks are loose fitting and provide protection to those surrounding the wearer. Face masks catch droplets and aerosols escaping the wearer. There is some filtration for the wearer, but because fit is different with each mask, there is no way to know how well a face mask will protect you. However, respirators, such as N95 masks, provide a tight seal and protect the wearer from airborne contaminants. In addition, respirators put a burden on your body when used. Because of that, employers must comply with several requirements when employees wear N95 masks at work.
OSHA and CDC require all healthcare workers in contact with COVID-19 patients to wear respirators with protection of at least N95.
Cloth face coverings in public
On April 3, 2020, the CDC recommended the general population should wear cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
The CDC recommends wearing cloth face masks such as those that could be made at home, including a surgical mask, or a bandanna. In the Printing Industry, care must be taken that any face covering does not create an additional hazard where the loose ends of a face mask could get caught in print rollers or other moving machinery. In addition, these cloth masks should be washed at least daily or disposed of daily.
Should Employers Provide Face Masks for free?
Yes. OSHA’s “Protecting Workers, Guidance…” updated August 13, 2021 states:
Employers should provide face coverings to the workers at no cost.https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus/safework
Stay tuned for updates.
What actions will keep COVID-19 out?
Printers and manufacturers are going to great lengths to protect their workforce from infection.
First of all, businesses should stay flexible to work with varying levels of disease transmission. According to OSHA, most businesses and employees will fall under low to medium risk exposure levels. See OSHA’s Guidance for Employers for more information.
Secondly, businesses should review the CDC Guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Remember, CDC offers Guidelines while OSHA and MNOSHA requirements are Mandatory.
CDC published potential workplace mitigation activities according to levels of community transmission.
- Allow employees to stay home and notify workplace administrators when sick (workplaces should provide non-punitive sick leave options to allow staff to stay home when ill).
- Ensure ventilation systems operate properly. Provide acceptable indoor air quality for the current occupancy level for each space.
- Increase ventilation rates if possible
- Encourage or enforce employees to wear cloth face coverings such as fabric face masks, surgical masks or non-medical N95 masks (no valve).
- Actively encourage personal protective measures among staff such as handwashing and proper sneezing etiquette.
- Ensure hand hygiene supplies are readily available.
- Implement telework for staff (when feasible), particularly individuals at increased risk of severe illness. (In Minnesota, if an an employee can telework, they MUST work remotely.)
- Enforce social distancing measures:
- Increase physical space between workers at the worksite.
- Stagger work schedules
- Limit in-person meetings, meeting for lunch in a break room, etc.
- Consider employee health checks prior to entering building.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. (See PIM Connect for Guidelines and Operating Procedure).
Maintain a Healthy Work Environment
There is now data to assume that COVID-19 can be transmitted through the air. That means that airborne exposure to the virus should be controlled. Changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems, can reduce airborne exposures.
Consider improving the engineering controls using the building ventilation system. See OSHA’s “COVID-19 Guidance on Ventilation in the Workplace“. This may include some or all of the following activities:
- Ensure ventilation systems operate properly and provide acceptable indoor air quality for the current occupancy level for each space.
- Increase outdoor air ventilation, using caution in highly polluted areas. With a lower occupancy level in the building, this increases the effective dilution ventilation per person.
- Increase ventilation rates.
- Disable demand-controlled ventilation (DCV).
- Further open minimum outdoor air dampers (as high as 100%) to reduce or eliminate recirculation. In mild weather, this will not affect thermal comfort or humidity. However, this may be difficult to do in cold or hot weather.
- Improve central air filtration to the MERV-13 or the highest compatible with the filter rack, and seal edges of the filter to limit bypass.
- Check filters to ensure they are within service life and appropriately installed.
- Keep systems running longer hours, 24/7 if possible, to enhance air exchanges in the building space.
What have other printers done?
Taking all of this into account, review the following practices businesses have taken:
- All office teams work remotely (sales team, marketing teams and finance teams as well as back-office). When this isn’t possible, spread out remaining staff as far as possible and hold remote meetings – use remote tools even room-to-room.
- People should keep 6 feet distance when they talk.
- Rearrange production areas to accommodate working 6 feet from one another. This may become the new normal. Any steps you take now to help prevent the spread of infection will most likely be good in the future too.
- Temperature checks before entering the factory gate (use IR scanning thermometer that does not require touching skin or ear temperature with an alcohol swab in between). Note: there are legal implications for this (see MN Departement of Labor FAQ). According to CDC, a person who shows temperature above 100.4 degrees should not allowed to enter.
- Enforce masks for everyone indoors.
- All doors are left open or even removed when appropriate .
- Increase ventilation rates and increase the percentage of outdoor air that circulates into the system.
- Ensure relative humidity remains between 40-60%. Studies indicate that relative humidity plays a role in controlling the spread of the corona virus. The optimum range in a building is 40-60 % relative humidity. With relative humidity in this range, less of the corona virus survives.
- Buy all no-touch disposal receptacle or remove lids that require contact to open. (However, lids for hazardous waste and used rag cans should not be removed.)
- Disinfect all touched surfaces between each shift.
- Eliminate all routine shift hand-off meetings or limit them to just particular people or do them virtually.
- If you can, move from 1 or 2 shifts to 3 shifts and keep each shift with the same people each day, then if one shift is sick the others are protected. This arrangement can also work by having one crew for part of the week and one crew for the other part of the week. This may also accommodate shifting child care schedules.
- Stagger shift start/stop times, break times, and lunchtimes to minimize congregations at the time clocks or break areas.
- Zone the factory and prohibit employees from wandering into zones where they do not need to be to perform their jobs.
- Isolate key personnel without whom the factory cannot operate (e.g., boiler operators, wastewater treatment engineers, lead electricians, maintenance, etc.) to prevent them from getting ill.
- Shutdown the plant when production is not needed (even if you ramp on and off on a daily basis).
- Every bit of time not spent around other people may eliminate the spread of the virus.
Note: Some of the above recommendations are based on the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Guidance for Building Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Review these ASHRAE guidelines for further information on ventilation recommendations.
In addition, you can print informational posters and hang these in your plant for your employees.
Do you have OSHA, HR or safety concerns related to coronavirus?
Employers must provide “employment and a place of employment, which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm”.
OSHA updated their guidance: Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace. This guidance contains recommendations as well as descriptions of mandatory OSHA standards.
MN Dept. of Labor Workers’ Compensation COVID-19 Updates
Visit the Minnesota Department of Labor website for the most recent information about Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) changes, cancellations and resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The August 2020 COMPACT Newsletter compiled COVID-19 updates and changes related to workers’ compensation and OSHA recordkeeping. This is a good resource for anyone with workers’ compensation or recordkeeping responsibilities.
Worker Protections related to COVID-19
Minnesota published a 5 page information sheet to show employees what their rights and protections are. This is available in 5 different languages.
Hierarchy of Controls
Since COVID-19 may be spread by those with no symptoms, businesses and employers should evaluate and institute controls according to the hierarchy of controls to protect their employees and members of the general public.
OSHA requires a framework called the Hierarchy of Controls to restrict hazards in a workplace. The first thing to remember is the best way to control a hazard is to systematically remove it from the workplace. In other words, do not rely on workers to reduce their exposure. During a COVID-19 outbreak, when it may not be possible to eliminate the hazard, the most effective protection measures are (listed from most effective to least effective):
- Engineering controls,
- Increase ventilation
- Administrative controls,
- Telework, working from home
- Stay home when sick
- Safe work practices (a type of administrative control),
- Social distancing – 6 feet apart
- and PPE as a last resort.
What should you do if an employee is ill with symptoms of COVID-19?
People with a fever ≥100.4oF, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, headache or muscle aches could have COVID-19.
The ill person should stay at home and, if possible, have their own room and bathroom to reduce risk to household members. They need to stay isolated at home until their symptoms have resolved and all three of these conditions are met:
- Symptoms have improved (this can take up to 14 days) AND,
- At least seven days have passed since symptoms first appeared AND,
- At least three days have passed since fever has gone (without use of fever reducing medications).
Co-workers can report to work as long as they are symptom-free. They will have to carefully follow the health and safety guidelines you have developed for the facility, which should include:
- Social distancing. For example, staggering start times, break and lunch times, and careful attention to spacing workers six feet apart.
- Using personal protective equipment appropriate for the job. This could include washable coveralls, boots, latex or leather gloves, and masks (not medical masks used and needed in health care).
- Washing hands often.
- Avoiding touching their face, nose, mouth, or eyes.
- Covering their coughs and sneezes.
- Monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing, other symptoms as listed above). Workers should stop work and self-isolate if they develop symptoms.
Household or Intimate Contacts
Household or intimate contacts are considered at higher risk of developing COVID-19. If a household or intimate contact of a worker develops a COVID-like illness, the worker should stay home and self-quarantine for 14 days and monitor for symptoms.
In general, co-workers of someone with COVID-19 can continue to work if they do not have symptoms, but they should watch for symptoms and stay home if they develop symptoms. A worker must understand that even with the mildest symptoms, he or she must stay home and there will be no consequences for their job. Employees should seek medical care if their symptoms worsen and they feel it’s necessary. Advise them to call their doctor or clinic before they visit.
Is COVID-19 Recordable?
It depends. OSHA released guidance in 2020. It can be recordable if:
- There is a COVID-19 positive test.
- The employee was potentially exposed to COVID-19 at work.
- Lost work time due to COVID-19.
Do you have questions regarding EHS or COVID-19? First of all, contact either Paul Gutkowski (612-400-6205) or Cathy Malinowski (612-868-6771) with any Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) questions including how COVID-19 may affect the safety of your business.
Remember to check OSHA related resources including OSHA COVID-19 guidance and employee posters in English and Spanish on PIM Connect.
Have you disinfected areas of your plant?
To reduce the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19, businesses are asked to clean and disinfect high touch surfaces including tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets etc.
CDC Recommended Disinfection
- An EPA-registered household disinfectant.
- A diluted bleach solution or
- Clean with a solution of at least 70% alcohol.
Employees should follow the cleaning chemical instructions to ensure safe and effective use of the product.
- While cleaning, employees should wear gloves if available.
- Ensure your employees are trained in safe glove usage.
- Show this video (Youtube link) to your employees so they understand how to safety remove contaminated gloves.
- Always wash your hands after removing gloves.
PIM State Resources
Official COVID-19 information and resources by state.
PIM maintains resource pages with links to information, education and useful downloads to help you and your staff during this emergency.
Due to the fast-changing dynamics of Coronavirus (COVID-19), Printing Industry Midwest (PIM) created a folder on our PIM CONNECT system. Add PIM Connect as another valuable resource to keep you informed and offer templates to support your related communications. Consequently, member printers can stay on top of their situation. In the COVID-19 folder, you’ll find:
- Action Steps
- Letter to Clients
- Memo to Employees
- Note to Suppliers
- COVID-19 Webinar
Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association provides many good resources including great webinars.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus that has not been found in people before. The CDC answers frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19. Download this as a printable PDF document from the MN Department of Health: About Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) (PDF)