Traliant Resources

Best Practices for Returning to Work During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Manufacturing Environment​ Best Practices


This resource outlines general best practices for manufacturing to help mitigate employee exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. The recommendations listed in this resource are based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other similar workplace guidelines. 

Manufacturing generally means non-customer-facing facilities engaged in the mechanical, physical, or chemical transformation of materials, substances, or components into new products, including but not limited to plants, factories, mills, or other like businesses.

The best practices outlined in this document are general guidelines and may not apply to your specific workplace, job task, or work environment.

Employers and employees should always follow all applicable federal, state, and local laws, guidelines, and public health directives, as they may have different or more stringent standards. 

Face Coverings

While wearing cloth face coverings is a public health measure intended to reduce the spread of COVID-19, it may not be practical for employees to wear a single cloth face covering for the full duration of a work shift (e.g., eight or more hours) in a manufacturing facility if they become wet, soiled, or otherwise visibly contaminated during the work shift.

If cloth face coverings are worn in manufacturing facilities, employers should provide clean cloth face coverings (or disposable facemask options) for employees to use when the coverings become wet, soiled, or otherwise visibly contaminated.

Employers who determine that cloth face coverings should be worn in a manufacturing facility, including to comply with state or local requirements, should ensure the cloth face coverings:

  • Fit over the nose and mouth and fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face;

  • Are secured with ties or ear loops;

  • Include multiple layers of fabric;

  • Allow for breathing without restriction;

  • Can be laundered using the warmest appropriate water setting and machine dried daily after the shift, without damage or change to shape (a clean cloth face covering should be used each day);

  • Are not used if they become wet or contaminated;

  • Are replaced with clean replacements, provided by the employer, as needed;

  • Are handled as little as possible to prevent transferring infectious materials to the cloth; and

  • Are not worn with or instead of respiratory protection when respirators are needed.

More information on manufacturing work during COVID-19 is available from the CDC.

Heat-related Illness & Prevention

The use of cloth face coverings or masks may also increase the risk of heat-related illness in certain work environments.

For example, cloth face coverings can:

  • Reduce the body’s normal way of getting rid of heat by sweating or other means.

  • Increase the effort required to breathe through the face covering.

  • Elevate perception of anxiety brought on during wear.


According to the CDC, you can reduce your risk for heat-related illness by taking the following steps:

  • Talk with your healthcare provider about your physical ability to work safely in a potentially hot environment. Be sure to discuss any pre-existing medical conditions you have, PPE or cloth face covering or mask use, and social distancing practices.

  • Take time to get used (re-acclimate) to heat stress.

  • Identify a shift buddy to check for symptoms of heat-related illness.

  • Take longer and more frequent rest breaks when possible.

  • Adjust target expectations for completed work when possible.

  • Wear cloth face coverings that are lightweight and light in color.

  • Rehydrate and cool down safely.

  • Follow an emergency first aid plan.


The CDC has more detailed information on the steps employers and employees can take to prevent heat stress and heat-related illnesses in the following resources:

More information on Working in Outdoor and Indoor Heat Environments is also available from OSHA.

Social Distancing

Social Distancing

  • Refrain from handshakes, hugs, and fist bumps, and instead use no-contact greetings, such as a smile, a wave, a nod, a bow, or a thumbs-up.

  • Use outdoor seating areas and social distancing for any small-group activities such as lunches, breaks, and meetings, if possible.

  • Limit the number of workers in small workspace areas such as job site elevators, trailers and vehicles, and spaces under construction if possible.

  • Use physical barriers and modify workstations, work procedures, or hours and shifts to increase distance between employees whenever possible.

  • Add additional clock in/out stations, space out chairs in break rooms, and add outside tents for breaks.

On-Site Meetings

If possible, work-related meetings should be done outside or by phone or digital platforms. If on-site meetings are necessary, the meetings should consist of small groups of employees who maintain social distancing. 

Work Breaks

You may wish to bring lunch from home so you can observe social distancing while eating meals. You should not share food and beverages.

If you do visit lunch trucks or other similar vendors, you should maintain social distancing.

Enclosed Areas

You should minimize any time spent in enclosed spaces, such as toilets and break areas, as they are potentially high transmission areas.

Cleaning and Disinfecting

  • Increase frequency of cleaning and disinfecting in shared spaces.

  • Limit sharing of tools whenever possible.

  • Clean and disinfect tools or other equipment at least as often as employees change workstations.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as shared tools, machines, vehicles and other equipment, handrails, ladders, doorknobs, and portable toilets.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces periodically throughout the shift but also:

      • At the beginning and end of every shift

      • After anyone uses your vehicle, tools, or workstation

  • Clean and disinfect shuttle buses or vans if used.

Commuting and Work-Related Travel

General Travel

Follow CDC travel guidance to protect yourself and others during travel to and from work and on business trips.

Wash your hands before you leave for work and when you arrive at work, as described in the course. Bring sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if you are unable to wash your hands at your destination.

During travel, practice social distancing by keeping at least six (6) feet from others — for example, when you are waiting at a bus station or selecting seats on a train.

Wear face coverings in public settings, like on public and mass transportation, particularly when required by law.

Your employer may adjust work shifts to permit commuting during less busy times, consistent with business needs.

Consider using transportation options that minimize close contact with others (e.g., biking, walking, driving, or riding by car either alone or with household members).

Individuals who have an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should consider the risks and benefits of non-essential travel.

  • Consider skipping a row of seats between yourself and other riders if possible.

  • Enter and exit buses through rear entry doors if possible.

  • After you leave the transit station or stop, use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.

Public Transportation

In addition to the general principals listed above, you should:

  • As much as possible, avoid touching frequently touched surfaces such as kiosks, digital interfaces such as touchscreens and fingerprint scanners, ticket machines, turnstiles, handrails, restroom surfaces, elevator buttons, and benches.

  • If you must touch these surfaces, as soon as you can, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer, as described in the course.

  • Use touchless payment and no-touch trash cans and doors when available. Exchange cash or credit cards by placing them in a receipt tray or on the counter rather than by hand, if possible.

  • When possible, consider traveling during non-peak hours when there are likely to be fewer people.

Health Monitoring


Employee Temperature Checks

Your employer may implement temperature checks before entering the workplace when allowed or required by applicable law.


Wellness Screening Program

Your employer may implement a wellness screening program when allowed or required by applicable law.


Employees with COVID-19 Symptoms, Diagnosis, or Exposure

You are not allowed to report to work or remain at work if you have COVID-19 symptoms, diagnosis, or exposure.

Consult with your employer on how to appropriately report work absences and COVID-19 symptoms, diagnosis, or exposure.

Employers and employees should comply with all federal, state, and/or local laws or guidelines regarding when employees with COVID-19 symptoms, diagnosis, or exposure are allowed to return to the workplace or when to report cases to state or local health authorities.

Additional Resources

Other Workplace Considerations

Contact your County Health Department for additional information and guidance as local requirements may vary. 

Refer to government authorities and your employer’s policies and procedures for any other required COVID-19 workplace and/or job-specific safety measures, including but not limited to health screening, face coverings, social distancing, and cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

Workplace safety requirements and guidelines continue to develop as more information about COVID-19 is discovered.

The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only.
It does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or medical advice.